TOQUE TIPS

Jacques Pepin on leftovers

"A good cook is never apologetic about leftovers," Pepin writes in "Cuisine Economique." "The common mistake is to try to re-serve them in their original form. A roasted chicken is good only when fresh. Reheated, it tastes like a leftover, with all the word's pejorative connotations. But if the cooked chicken is served in a hash or in a cream sauce, or is transformed into a salad, it will taste as it should - like a freshly made dish." Saving on cleanup

"A lot of things that I peel, I'm going to peel directly over the garbage can, otherwise I'll put newspaper on the table that I use and clean up," Pepin says.

"I empty a pot and rinse it right away and leave it there. It's not clean enough to put away, but it's clean enough for the next dish that I have to saute or whatever. So I can end up cooking with one or two pots as I go along. I'm in the kitchen very often doing recipes ... organizing so that you clean as you go along is fine." Buying in bulk

Buy in bulk if you know what to do with it, the chef advises in an interview. "People will buy in bulk and it will end up spoiling.... Know what you buy. Don't buy 10 pounds of potatoes if you're alone at home and they're going to sit for four months there. If you buy a turkey which is 18 pounds and you have three people at home; after you have used it ... and the dog ends up eating it or you're throwing it out. It's a shame. Cook a pound of beans, divide it, and freeze it. Reuse it at some other point . It has to cook for an hour and a half whether it's a pound or 1/2 cup." Improving your cooking

"The more you cook, the more you know. After you cook a lot, then cook a bit more, then eventually you start getting much better," Pepin says. "First you will work much faster, you will save much more, you will be much better in buying the quantity of what you need, having no leftovers and you will take a lot of the drudgery out of cooking. Just because you know more." Ratatouille

"Leftover ratatouille can be chopped fine into a `caviar,' seasoned with a dash of hot pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, and served as a dip with potato chips, corn chips, or crackers," Pepin writes. "This mixture makes a great stuffing, too, for ravioli, which can be served with tomato sauce for a light lunch." Chili

"Chili con carne is, of course, an ideal dish to make ahead," writes Pepin. "It freezes well and will keep under refrigeration for four days to one week. It actually improves in flavor with reheating. Freeze the chili in small enough containers so that you can thaw it easily on short notice." Eggs

"It is important when preparing hard-cooked eggs to boil the eggs very gently; if they are cooked in rapidly boiling water, the whites become tough and rubbery," Pepin writes.

"Then, immediately after the eggs are cooked, pour out the hot water, replace it with ice-cold water, and let the eggs remain in that water until they are completely cold.

"This prevents the outer part of the yolk from turning green and eliminates the strong smell of sulphur often associated with hard-cooked eggs."

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