Cooking Chicken and Making Stock

Place chicken breasts (with skin and bone) into a stock pot. Cover with fresh, cool water. Add an onion (quartered), a couple of celery stalks (cut into 1-inch pieces) and a couple of carrots (cut into 1-inch pieces). If you have fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and parsley, tie them together with kitchen twine and throw them into the pot as well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 40 minutes. Turn off heat and let chicken cool slightly while submersed in the stock. Remove skin and bones from the meat. Use the meat in your recipe and throw the skin and bones back into the pot with the stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for an hour or two. The longer you simmer the stock, the richer it will be. Strain and freeze or refrigerate.

Leftover Tomato Paste

When you have a recipe that only calls for a tablespoon or two of tomato paste and you have most of a can leftover, freeze it. Drop the tomato paste in 1 tablespoon portions onto a cookie sheet or pan that will fit into your freezer. Freeze until firm. Remove the dollops to a freezer bag and store until you need another tablespoon of tomato paste for another recipe.

Roasting Peppers

To roast your own bell peppers, lightly coat them with olive oil, put them on a long fork and blacken them over the flame of a gas burner. Turn frequently and make sure all sides get black and blistered. (You can also do this under a broiler. When I use the broiler, I seed the peppers and cut each into about 4 pieces so they lie flat on the broiler pan.) Immediately place the peppers in a heatproof bowl (cover with plastic wrap) or a paper bag (roll down top of bag to seal). Let steam 10 to 15 minutes, then remove skins and seeds from peppers. The remaining pepper flesh can be left in large pieces or chopped. If not using immediately, cover with a little bit of olive oil and refrigerate in airtight container for up to 2 days.