Good morning. One of the few joys of the pandemic lockdown, as Tejal Rao wrote for The Times last week, is the sharp increase in the number of condiments many of us have put in our refrigerators since March. Tejal listed beautiful examples: “Preserved lemons from a neighbor’s tree. Sludgy garlic pickles in a distressingly greasy jar. Tubs of fermented bean pastes and bottles of fish sauce, mouths crusted with salty crystals.”
To their number, she has recently added salsa macha (above), a chile oil that comes out of the Mexican states of Veracruz and Oaxaca, with fried dried chiles and garlic suspended in deeply infused cooking oil. Her recipe for it is a template, essentially, one worth experimenting with as countless cooks have done over the years, adding different seeds and nuts and bugs and nibs. Won’t you give it a try? Your morning eggs or evening roasted potatoes will never be the same. (Try it in a marinade, and in a vinaigrette.)
Tejal’s column got me thinking about condiment cooking, about the chile-crisp tofu and green beans I like to roast, about the XO sauce I spoon over noodles, about mayo-marinated chicken and mustard-painted salmon. Would you tell me your favorite condiments for cooking? I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s not just condiments here at NYT Cooking, though. You might take a look at this sheet-pan kielbasa with cabbage and beans for dinner some night soon. At these creamy vegan tofu noodles, too, and these marvelous baked clams. (What if you made sheet-pan baked clams? Cover a whole sheet pan with the bready, clam-studded filling and bake it. That’d be a good dressing for a Christmas turkey, don’t you think?)
I might try this creamy one-pot mushroom and leek pasta, too, and this broccoli salad with Cheddar and warm bacon vinaigrette. And a glass of coquito afterward, in keeping with the season? Yes, please.
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Now, it’s nothing to do with chestnuts or the price of vanilla, but Louise Glück was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature this year. Here’s her acceptance lecture, published in The New York Review of Books.