Pink Velvet Cake

January 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

J: This cake was actually my birthday cake last October (clearly, we need to post more often so we aren’t doing months-late posts like this so much…).  I know very few people who don’t like red velvet cake, and I am no exception — except I have always sort of turned a blind eye to how exactly the cake gets red.  The answer to that is: TONS of food coloring.  Which, I mean, is all well and good, if you don’t mind consuming ridiculous amounts of chemicals, but Erik and I have been trying to cut down on our chemical intake.  Watching one’s girlish figure, and all.

guess the color!

Anyway, we were trying to figure out ways in which we could get the cake red without using food coloring.  The obvious choice here was to use beets, but what fun is going with the obvious choice?  Erik’s alternative idea was to use strawberries.  It didn’t exactly not work, but, well, the cake was less red and more pink.  Hence, the title. « Read the rest of this entry »

Thyme Cod with Grilled Pears

January 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

E: This is another riff off of a recipe from Tom Colicchio’s book Think Like a Chef, which we got for Christmas from my cousin Kristina and her husband Patrick. The book has some really wonderful looking fish recipes, so we decided to do a simple pan-roasted thyme cod, based off his pan-roasted sea bass recipe. Though we couldn’t get the fish as crispy as the fish in the pictures in his book, the cooking technique shown here is a really great one, and results in fantastic flavors. It is definitely something we’ll use again (and we actually did make this again a few days later, using salmon instead of cod).

the result

We decided to pair our cod with some “grilled” pears and risotto-style wild rice. Feel free to use whatever you want. We thought everything was quite delicious, but make sure you give your wild rice time to cook. We didn’t start it early enough and that delayed us a bit. If you have an actual grill the pears will come out looking better, with some nice char on them. « Read the rest of this entry »

What Happened?? Why Is It So Dark in Here?

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Nombudsman has chosen to darken the blog to join the protest and spread awareness about SOPA/PIPA legislation. This legislation could do untold damage to the architecture of the Internet. It would certainly harm free speech on the net, and as it amounts to a mechanism for Internet censorship, it would make our nation a terrible model for freedom and democracy, electronic or otherwise, around the globe. Having been following this story for months, and having read through the contents of the bills and watched the Congressional hearings, we are shocked by some of what is being contemplated by our elected representatives.

Read about the bills here, and here, and elsewhere, see an infographic, and see a version of the the full text here.

We encourage everyone to go research these bills and form their own opinions. However we have grave concerns that these bills will not stop piracy, and will instead give companies shortcuts to remove from the web not only content that “infringes” on their rights, but entire sites that host, allegedly host, or merely link to that content. The legal language of these bills is far too broad.

Many major sites including Mozilla, Google, Wikipedia, etc. are protesting today, either with banners or full blackouts. We will keep up our change of look for the near future. We don’t want to turn this site into a political forum, but when something as large as this comes around and threatens the existence of the technologies that make what we do possible, we have to do something about it.

Whatever you think about SOPA, this should be a call to action. Dangerous bills show up all the time in Congress. Some even get passed without getting the press that these bills have. We the voters need to take a greater interest in what goes on, supposedly in our names, in our government. Not just at election time, either. All the time.

-Joanna & Erik

Pumpkin, Garlic, & Parmesan Gnocchi

January 16, 2012 § 5 Comments

J: Over Thanksgiving, Erik and I made pumpkin, roasted garlic, and Parmesan mashed potatoes from a recipe I found ages ago.  They were totally delicious, and I decided that it would be a great idea to make the potatoes again, but transform them into gnocchi as a little twist, since I hadn’t made gnocchi since these, way back at the very beginning of the blog.

gnocchi with (more) cheese and zucchini!

These were pretty tasty, but the flavors weren’t nearly as strong as they were in the mashed potato, probably because we ended up having to add quite a bit of flour to get the dough to the correct texture.  So, I’d definitely recommend adding some more of everything — garlic, Parmesan, and pumpkin — to get the flavors to punch through.  The recipe below includes our suggested amounts, not the actual amounts that we used.  Also, as a sauce we decided just to do brown butter, figuring it would accent the flavors nicely.  That, with some additional Parmesan grated over the gnocchi, made this quite yummy indeed. « Read the rest of this entry »

Sole with Criminis, Leeks, and Asparagus

January 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

E: For Christmas, we received Tom Colicchio’s book Think Like A Chef from my cousin Kristina and her husband Patrick—thank you both very much! We decided to make some recipes from the book over the holidays as a way to test it out. There’s a lot of great stuff in the book, and it looks like a great guide to a lot of things. Colicchio certainly likes his butter, so this isn’t the sort of cookbook you work out of every day. Instead I think it is best used for occasional special events. However, there are a good number of recipes that, with small modifications, could make for reasonable everyday fare.

looks a little messy but tastes good

This dish, however, is not one of them. This is a version of one his recipes that uses morels, ramps, and asparagus. However as neither morels nor ramps were available, we made some substitutions. The real killer in this dish is the beurre fondue—it is excellent, giving a wonderful buttery flavor without being greasy. Beurre fondue is basically butter whisked into some water, and it provides a buttery, creamy sauce that isn’t too oily or overpowering. It doesn’t feel too fatty on the palette, but considering that the recipe as written uses 2 sticks of butter (we made do with 1), this isn’t something you’d want to eat daily. « Read the rest of this entry »

Rum-Soaked Berry Apple Pie

January 4, 2012 § 3 Comments

J: I have been on a major pie kick since Thanksgiving, and not least because I really enjoy making pie dough.  I love working with dough of all kinds — bread dough, cookie dough (duh!), pizza dough, scone dough, pie dough.  And the basic recipe for pie dough that we have been using, from the Joy of Cooking, is simple and produces consistently excellent results if you work with it correctly (more details on that later).  Once you’ve gotten this down, you don’t have to buy pie dough (or quiche dough, for that matter) ever again.  And you know how we feel here at Nombudsman about buying food that can be just as easily made at home!

Incidentally, another bonus to making pie dough is that all of a sudden you have a delicious vessel that you can put more delicious stuff in, and then bake, and then eat.  It’s kind of magical that way.


So, Erik and I were at his parents’ house this week and we decided we were going to make a dessert.  As I was on the aforementioned pie kick, it was clear what kind of dessert it would be.  The only question was what to put in the pie.  In a joint moment of genius, we hit on berries and apples, and then decided that clearly it would be in everyone’s best interest to soak the fruit in rum before we baked the pie.

That was a very, very good choice. « Read the rest of this entry »

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