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You'll be hearing from the staff at Food52 in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.
In the last excruciating weeks of winter, when we've just about given up on wearing nice shoes to work, it's tempting to throw in the towel in the kitchen, too. But simple winter comfort food doesn't need to be bland or boring -- it might be mashed, and creamed, and relentlessly roasted, but even the most basic pantry meal has hope.
Next time you hear the word "boiled," don't roll your eyes. Because with a dash of this and a sprinkle of that, you can rescue even the most uninspired meal. With this in mind, we asked our team:
What's your go-to remedy when your food turns out a little bland?
How do you get to Flavortown when your winter staples have you bored? Do you turn to Sriracha? An armful of herbs? All soy sauce all the time? Tell us in the comments!
Christina: Za'atar is lovely on just about anything -- eggs, chicken, greek yogurt (or lebne if you're me), roasted veggies, et cetera. I've recently been meyer lemoning the heck out of everything too. Come see me at my desk if you want a wedge.
Lauren K: +1 lemon juice, pepper flakes, and Pecorino. Also: Cholula orr Secret Aardvark hot sauce from Portland. Dashes of vermouth or white wine. Brown sugar.
Karl: +2 lemon juice. I also have a bunch of pre-made rubs on hand, some made at home, many store-bought. Hot sauces: yes! I like Sriracha, Clancy's Fancy, and recently this has become my new favorite.
Rémy: I had a reputation in college as the girl who carried sriracha in her backpack. When hot sauce fails, there is nothing that some some sort of vinegar cannot fix.
Marian: Lauren K, I've been putting vermouth in things too! Most recently, vegetable stock. It makes me feel sly. My go-tos are heaps of Parmesan, plus all the stuff everyone else said: lemon, red pepper flakes, black pepper, Maldon. Eggs on everything.
Joy: I was lucky enough to get Torrisi's Spicy Sauce as a Christmas gift this year (thanks, Marian!) -- and I've been putting it on everything. It's so good, and just hot enough that I can't dump the whole thing on some oily pasta, which is what I really want to do.
Gabriella P: I douse my food in either Sriracha or Cholula. Sometimes both.
Gabriella M: Same as the other Gabriella! And if I'm going for extra spicy, this Bad Brains sauce or green El Yucateco. I also frequently turn to red pepper flakes, lemon, a fried egg, or sometimes a little honey.
Lindsay-Jean: +1 for vinegar. All of the vinegars. And +1 for Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt! My grandmother (named Jane) used it all the time, and now it's the one pantry ingredient I make sure to never run out of.
Tell us in the comments: What are your go-to flavor enhancers?