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Ideas, advice, and what to make now from the Chowhound community and CHOW editors.

Dinner Party Pork Tenderloin

Most dinner hosts want to keep it simple in the kitchen, but still wow guests with an elegant and delicious dish. The answer? Pork tenderloin.

mariacarmen simply salts and peppers a tenderloin, then rolls it in crushed toasted cumin seeds, sears it on all sides, places it in a shallow roasting pan filled with chicken stock or white wine to half the depth of the pork, and braises it for 20 to 30 minutes. It's "very tender and juicy," she says. sparkareno wraps pork tenderloins in pancetta, brushes with a mixture of apricot jam, orange juice, hot mustard, and garlic, and grills.

jmullen1251 stuffs pork tenderloin with spinach and goat cheese, or with sun-dried tomato pesto, Gruyère, and prosciutto. goodhealthgourmet recommends grilled pork tenderloin with mustard, rosemary, and apple marinade and pork tenderloin with roasted grape sauce. They're delicious, and very easy, she says.

CHOW's take: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with apples.

Discuss: Easy yet elegant pork tenderloin ideas

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"The best Alfredo sauce I ever had was simply one part each Parmesan, Romano, and butter kneaded together until soft. Not even any cream. Bits of it were tossed with hot pasta and parsley and oregano were sprinkled on top." - rainey

"Much like nutmeg, caraway can add complexity to so many dishes and people never actually can identify it." - RetiredChef

"Goose is a little darker and richer than duck, but they're far more similar to one another than they are to any other bird." - alanbarnes

Sweet Wine Has a Purpose

Many hounds aren't wild about drinking wines on the sweeter side, but they use them to good effect in both savory and sweet cooking.

A lightly sweet wine is good for braising sauerkraut, according to Will Owen, either with bacon as a side dish, or as part of a full choucroute garni. buttertart steeps prunes in sweet wine and uses this as an accompaniment to pork chops or roasted pork. miss louella loves the results so much when she uses a sweet wine in risotto that she buys sweet wines solely for that purpose.

Vetter uses sweet wines for poaching pears or stone fruit, while Querencia pours sweet wine over cut-up fresh fruit. HillJ says sweet Rieslings are a good base for sorbets and granitas.

Discuss: Half a bottle of too-sweet Riesling

Beets, Beets, Pretty and Sweet

Roasted beets are perennially popular in salads or on their own, but there are other fine ways to cook the sugary root.

Grated beets are nice simply sautéed in butter or oil; add a bit of liquid, cover, and cook until tender. If you add onions, use vinegar as the liquid, and finish with a sprinkle of celery seed: "You get sort of a warm beet-pickle effect," says sfmiller. Grated beets are also a component of recipes such as fettucine with grated beets and cheese, cumin-scented beet latkes, and beet rosti with rosemary.

bizkat likes this beet tzatziki. "Very good," he says. "Beautiful color. Definitely snazzy." Cherylptw adds beets to risotto, and smile81 says beet ravioli with poppy seed butter is simple, but beautiful and "super-tasty."

Discuss: Beet recipes - other than roasted or in a salad?

Truffle Butter, a Luxury Fat

Gilding dishes with truffle butter gives them rich, luxurious flavor. To play up the truffle flavor, keep the background simple.

Mashed potatoes are rainey's favorite vehicle for truffle butter. "It's a simple, hardy base that really lets the truffle flavor take center stage," she says. egging suggests making truffled french fries: Toss fries with a light coat of melted truffle butter and sprinkle with Parmesan.

SpareRib puts a pat on grilled steak, and uses it to finish pan sauces; Kelli2006 uses it to make hollandaise. AndrewK512 stirs it into a basic risotto, and several hounds like it in scrambled or shirred eggs.

maria lorraine puts it on popcorn, and recommends a suitable wine pairing: "Serve with bubbly."

Discuss: What to make with truffle butter?

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"I usually make them in the crockpot and there is something magical about leaving for work with what is essentially a pot of water with stuff floating in it and coming back to find it has turned into soup."

"Any lengthy cooking seems to destroy truffle oil. Drizzled over a chicken for roasting results in a lovely aroma for the first half of cooking, then nothing more, and no flavour addition. Drizzled whilst resting after cooking though, is terrific."
-Robin Joy

"When meatballs add grease to your sauce, it's because of the of the fat content from the ground meat you use to make the meatballs."

More to Love About Brussels Sprouts

If you buy Brussels sprouts on the stalk or grow them yourself, don't toss the long leaves that grow from the top of the stalk; they're delicious in their own right.

To remove the tough ribs from the greens, fold each leaf in half along the rib, and either pull the rib away from the greens with your hand or cut it out with a knife. If they are young and tender, add them raw to salads, suggests toodie jane. Otherwise, try steaming or braising them as you would other greens. katierose sautés the greens with onion, garlic, and Fuji apple, and serves them topped with crumbled nuts. scubadoo97 has used the leaves in place of grape leaves when making dolmas, and says they work really well.

Discuss: Brussel Sprout GREENS or LEAVES

Creative Cheesecake Crusts

Many cheesecake recipes call for a classic graham-cracker crust, but the flavor of the crust is limited only by your imagination. Choose one that complements your filling, and get creative.

"You can use practically any cookie to make a crust," says Cherylptw. "Just pulse it to make crumbs and add a little butter to bind." Hounds like using chocolate wafers, gingersnaps, sugar cookies, and digestive biscuits. If you use Oreos or other cream-filled cookies, you don't even need butter, says nemo; the cream filling acts as a binder.

Crumbs made from dry cake or other day-old baked goods also work great, says chowser. And hotoynoodle suggests a nut crust, made from ground nuts, butter, and sugar.

Discuss: Good cheescake crust- not graham cracker

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"I'm all no-flour, no-sugar, pour it into a blazin' hot skillet kinda guy. If I want soft, I'll eat cake. Cornbread's supposed to be crunchy, corny, at least somewhat redolent of pig fat and practically incapable of going stale."
-Will Owen

"Purée the rest of your can of chipotle with the adobo sauce in a food precessor and put it in a jar. I always keep a jar of puréed chipotle in my frdge. This will keep in your fridge for months."
-Norm Man

"Besides nipping out of the jar while holding the fridge door open with my leg, I love splashing a bowl of potato chips with pickle juice (plus a shot or two of Louisiana hot sauce)."

Fried Rice Primer

Fried rice is an endlessly flexible canvas for meats, vegetables, and seasonings, whether you prepare them especially for the dish or just use up odds and ends. The key to great fried rice is in cooking technique.

You can cook fried rice in a wok or a skillet. As with other stir-fried dishes, it's important to have all your add-ins prepped before you start to cook, to use high heat, and to keep the food moving in the pan, say hounds. Fried rice is usually made with day-old rice, which has a drier texture, but a couple of hounds report good results with freshly cooked rice.

Vegetables or meats that need cooking should be cooked first and removed from the pan. Then heat some oil until it's almost smoking, add the rice, and "toss and stir like crazy," says Sam Fujisaka. Add the rest of the ingredients and seasonings, and when it's all hot, you're done. Some prefer to cook beaten eggs first, remove, and add these to the rice at the end, while others crack an egg into the pan at the end of cooking and stir it in to coat the rice. monku fries diced bacon, and adds the rice when the bacon is done. "The bacon fat does wonders when frying the rice," he says.

"Traditional fried rice should not be brown and is not primarily seasoned with soy sauce," explains janel. Others concur that you should add only a small amount of soy sauce, and many feel oyster sauce or fish sauce give a better flavor than soy. puzzler likes adding thinly sliced green onions at the end, after the pan is off the heat.

Discuss: tips for getting started with fried rice