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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Spiced Nuts They’ll Gobble Up

Whether you serve them as cocktail nibbles or wrap them up to give as gifts, spiced nuts are a snack that people just can't stop eating.

Many hounds love Union Square Cafe's bar nuts recipe, with brown sugar, cayenne, and rosemary. "Union Square nuts are quite simply the best!" raves katecm. They're terrific served warm, but good room temperature as well. cinnamon girl notes that they get crunchier once they've cooled.

amyzan says David Lebovitz's candied peanuts are fantastic warm or cool, and will be "gobbled down astoundingly fast." The recipe works well with almonds, too, she says, adding, "They're crunchy and sweet and super easy because it's all stove top."

karykat loves spiced nuts with sugared bacon, and says, "People just snarf them down." Val is a fan of sweet and spicy candied pecans, and hounds sing the praises of CHOW's Honeyed Cashews with Kosher Salt and Roasted Rosemary Walnuts.

Discuss: What's your best holiday nut recipe?
’Tis the Season--To Go To a Party

The Whole World Loves Spinach

Spinach is a staple green that lends itself to an international roster of cuisines.

Paula76 likes spinach and basil pesto on pasta; just add chopped spinach to your basil pesto recipe. shanagain thinks it's awesome cold on sandwiches, too. "It's like bargain pesto, but SO good," she says. For a fast weeknight dinner, ginnyhw drains a pot of cooked tortellini over a colander of baby spinach leaves; toss together, and the spinach wilts as the boiling water drains. Top with your favorite sauce.

"If you are craving something Japanese," says Yukari, "quickly blanch the spinach and top with soy sauce and sesame oil. If you have some toasted sesame seeds, toss them on top after crushing." thursday fries pancetta until almost crispy, drains off most of the fat, adds chopped garlic and spinach and sautés, before topping with toasted pine nuts, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and salt.

alkapal loves Lebanese spinach turnovers, and agopal says this spinach dal is easy to make.

LindaWhit makes spinach cabrini, a rich pasta casserole, and coll loves Creamed Spinach. bear thinks baked eggs with spinach and mushrooms are delicious.

Discuss: Spinach ideas

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

A Different Kind of Big Mac

Here's the rundown on a brilliant slightly-larger-than-quarter-sized hamburger-themed French macaron over at Eat Me Daily:

"The buns: cocoa-tinted macarons.
The burger: a slice of dried plum.
The cheese: coffee buttercream.
The lettuce (the pickles?): green decorating sugar.
The mustard: a slice of dried apricot.
The ketchup: raspberry jam.
No tomatoes—they're unforgivably redundant with ketchup, even on a cookie."

As fast-food-themed art goes, this little confection will inevitably make you hungry: for a burger, or macaron, or both.

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

The Fantastic Mr. Foodie?

Over at the Atlantic, V.V. Ganeshananthan offers a considered opinion of Wes Anderson's stop-motion animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox. In short: The Roald Dahl book of the same title featured animals who were far more civilized and food-forward. Magnificent feasts and a fine-food-as-civilization theme have been watered down for the big screen:

"Perhaps the movie's approach to food says more about our time than the era in which the book was written: it does not end with the feast that finishes the book, but rather in a supermarket full of goods with artificial flavorings, where the animals are grateful to be together and to have any food at all."

Gender Bending in Restaurant Restrooms

Gender Bending in Restaurant Restrooms

Is it OK for gals to use the men's loo? READ MORE

Fresh Truffles Under the Tree

Fresh truffles make a decadent, fragrant Christmas gift for home cooks. Ordering them online is essential, because they have such a short shelf life, says DallasDude. "The whites, in some opinion, are better than the black version and are priced accordingly," he says. The black winter truffles are cheaper, about $150 per ounce, while white truffles run about $250. "There are also the Oregon truffles that are similar, but drastically cheaper at about $15 an ounce (about $35 shipped)."

Lexma90 orders them from Urbani Truffles. "We plan ahead of time what night we'll be using them, then I buy them the day before (via phone)," says Lexma90. "They are delivered overnight delivery via FedEx. Because yes, they have a short shelf life. And I always call ahead to make sure that Urbani thinks they'll have the white truffles that day, because availability is dependent on what they get from Italy."

Urbani charges about $205 per ounce for white truffles, $85 per ounce for black. "I think we plan on about 5–6 grams per person, for one dish. We've had enough left over to have the leftover truffles shaved onto scrambled eggs the following morning. Heaven!" says Lexma90.

Another option: Costco sells fresh truffles online, $400 for two ounces, says Cathy.

Board Links: Fresh Truffles as Christmas Gift

Good Bad Hot Cocoa

Good Bad Hot Cocoa

This week's mission: instant hot chocolate with aspirations to greatness. READ MORE

Festive Sangría and Punch

If you don't feel like playing bartender and mixing drinks all night, a tasty wine punch is a festive way of satisfying a crowd. cackalackie recommends Spiced Cranberry Sangría for a festive and pretty presentation. "It contains wine, Cointreau and port—and very little cranberry juice. I added much more juice," says cackalackie. "It contains two cups of cranberries and a couple of diced apples that have been soaked in the spiced simple syrup—and more Cointreau and port."

Other ways to "Christmas" up your sangría? "Roast a few orange halves (or grill in a hot cast iron pan or skillet just to caramelize, can be made a day in advance), stud them with cloves, and it's a nice addition," says bushwickgirl. "Roasted apples work as well. Float some brandy on the top to liven everything up."

CDouglas suggests champagne punch: "Make the base in advance and add the bubbly stuff right before serving."

"I have done the red sangría thing at several parties and have found almost nobody that doesn't like it," says cycloneillini. "Mine is less sweet than what you get in most restaurants, and I have found that red and white wine drinkers and beer drinkers all like it."

Discuss: Good (alcoholic) drink for a party?.