(ran NP, SPTP editions)
BELL PEPPERS: Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers add character, crunch, and healthful antioxidants to a salad or stir-fry. The pepper's boxy shape makes cutting and prepping a breeze.
Stand the pepper on the cutting surface stem-side up. Following the pepper's natural square shape, cut the pepper from top to bottom in four even panels. Cut the ridged bottom off the remaining pepper frame before discarding the seeds and stem.
Because the skin is tough on raw peppers, lay the pieces skin-side down on the counter to slice and dice.
PAPRIKA: Paprika has gotten a bad rap as a lackluster spice that adds color but not flavor. But paprikas from Hungary and Spain have exciting flavors.
Hungarian paprikas are varied and delicious, because this spice is the signature of this cuisine. The grades range from special, made from impeccable peppers with a delicate flavor and bright red color, to aromatic sweet or half-sweet ones, to the rusty hued hot.
Spanish smoked paprika, or pimento comes sweet, hot and bittersweet, as well. Try this heady paprika rubbed on pork loin, sprinkled on chicken or over garlic mashed potatoes.
CRISPER CHICKEN: Shatteringly crisp skin is one mark of a perfect roast chicken; moist breast and evenly cooked dark meat are others. There is an easy way to guarantee a high ratio of crisp skin to moist meat; it just takes a little forethought. The day before you roast your bird, remove it from its package, pat it dry and set it on a rack on a pan. Set the pan in a well-ventilated spot in the refrigerator, and let the skin air dry until you are ready to roast. Overnight is ideal, and the results are well worth this extra step. This technique works with duck and turkey, too.
_ FOOD NETWORK