The first signs of Spring came out in style this past weekend with some excellent sun, a light breeze and warm temperatures that helped you forgot the horror that snowpacolypse. On Sunday a group of of us went on our first outdoor climb of the new year at Great Falls. Despite rather high water levels we had a blast and got some excellent climbs in.

Apples And Pears Pot Pouri

Inspired by the weather, I ventured out to the Falls Church Farmers Market on Saturday, which has actually been open since January. Props to that. There’s something calming about Farmers Markets; centering. Scores of people walking about just talking, sampling food; no rush, no place they have to be. It’s just a contrast from the usual everyday life in DC where actually forget about how much stress and urgency we’re practically swimming in.

Yukon Golds Yukon Golds - Quartered

With us being on the tale end of winter, I honed in on the root vegetables; beets, leeks, potatoes… and a few apples of course (huuuuge Fuji’s. yum!) The leeks ended up in a nice simple, but delicious potato leek soup and I have visions of a small batch of borscht for the beets. The potatoes, yukon golds to be exact, had their own destiny.

Oven Baked Yukon Golds

A very smart person once said that the secret to good food is to use fresh ingredients and do very little to them. While it’s easy to to consider the potato as nothing more than bland, there is an essence of flavor somewhere and simplicity is the best way to draw that out. Local fresh is key here. Potatoes start with a rather thin skin when just yanked out of the ground and this thing tends to get thicker as the months roll by (which I can promise you is happening with spuds at your local megamart). When looking for potatoes at your local market, look for paper thin and you won’t be disappointed. Then, toss with a bit of oil, some salt and pepper and then whatever herbs you may like (fresh if you got em but dried if you don’t).

Oven Baked Yukon Golds
Consider this a guideline. Throw out the cookbook (or, put it back on the shelf).

Yukon Gold potatoes
herbs (rosemary, thyme…)

Preheat your oven to 400°. Cut your potatoes into 1.5 piece cubes, most likely just in half unless there notably large; in which case quarter them. Toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Start with one and add more if necessary for a light coating. Throw in a tablespoon of fresh herbs or a teaspoon of dried and set on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and bake for 30 minutes until the pieces are easily pierced but still firm. Let cool briefly, serve and enjoy.

Anyone Have a Recipe for Shoe?

biscuit and shoe

Cookbook contest!

Everyday Food has recently published a new book called “Fresh Flavor Fast.” I have the Everday Food book “Great Food Fast,” and it has been my favorite and most used cookbook for some time. The book shares recipes that are relatively easy and fast to make and use ingredients that are not difficult to keep on hand. I’m eager to try the new book!

To promote its release, Everyday Food is holding a contest:

Tell us why you love Everyday Food in 150 words or less, along with the title of your favorite Everyday Food recipe, and submit your entry between February 15, 2010, and March 15, 2010, and you could be one of 20 lucky winners.

Include your complete name, address, telephone number, and email address. Online entries can be emailed to, or mail your entry with your full name, address, phone number, and email address to:

Alison Sickelka
Assistant Editor, Online
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
601 West 26th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Also, click here for a sample of recipes from the new book!

Currently Baking, Part II

You might have noticed that yesterday I was working on Joy the Baker’s Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread (minus the walnuts). I was a little worried at first because it seemed to be cooking much faster than the time Joy suggested, but the breads baked for 1 hour and everything worked out fine.


They smelled great while baking and out of the oven, and the bread is awesome served warm. I tried another slice this morning with breakfast (cause let’s face it, sometimes things taste different when it’s not fresh out of the oven!), and it was still great. At one point I did feel like something was missing that I couldn’t quite place – maybe a little too much flour, maybe a little too much oil, maybe not enough pumpkin flavor.. I’m not sure! But today I didn’t feel that way, so maybe I like the bread best after it has ‘set.’


Will this recipe replace my longtime favorite pumpkin bread recipe? I’m not sure… maybe I’ll have to do a side-by-side comparison. What vegan bread should I try next?

Currently Baking…

Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread (sans the walnuts), recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker. Anyone ever tried it before? Or vegan breads in general?

Let’s Have More Fun!

Hey DC fans!

It’s time to spice it up here at DinnerCakes again. Edwin and I have decided the usual schedule is stifling our creativity, and we’d like some more flexibility to share new ideas, adventures and experiments with you.

We want to be more healthful (yeah, even me!), which means sometimes doing less with better ingredients. We want to tell you about farmer’s markets and what we find there. We’d like to take more photos and show you more interesting, quality shots. We want to share ideas with you and find out more about what works for you! And judging from last week’s yogurt discussion, it sounds like you all enjoy the chance to be heard!

So we’re throwing the old schedule out the window – we hope you like what you find and that you’ll continue to share your thoughts, tips and ideas with us!

Your kitchen compadres,
Chef Edwin & Heather – Ghost Baker

Founding Farmers Yeast Doughnut Holes

My friend Lindsey is a fellow connoisseur of food and on occasion we like to visit new (to us) restaurant in the area; usually brunch because brunch friggin’ rocks. Good food and good conversation with a good friend always makes for an enjoyable Sunday. A few weeks ago we took a trip to Founding Farmers Market in Northwest DC that she had heard good things about. The decor and environment were very nice; very subdued considering the close proximity some of the two-seat tables were. Under Lindsey’s insistence we ordered the hot chocolate and yeast doughnut holes. Both quite good. I usually find vegetarian brunch options somewhat limited once you filter out your usual suspects of pancakes, waffles, etc, but was pleased to find a delicious Florentine eggs Benedict dish with leek hash. The egg dish was fabulous and the hollaindaise sauce was the best I’ve ever had. The leek hash? Not so good. Couldn’t even taste the leeks, but rather just some burnt potato scraps. Still an excellent experience and I recommend Founding Farmers Market for breakfast.

Eggs Benedict Florentine

Yogurt Frenzy: Greek vs. Regular Yogurt

Well, I’m home today with a sick dog. It was a great night of waking up at 11pm, 1am, 2am, and 4am to take the dog out so that he could do various gross things outside instead of in his crate. My only theory is that when I gave him a chew thing earlier in the day that should have taken him hours to work on, it was gone in 30 minutes – I’m thinking he swallowed it mostly whole. What type of food toys do you all use to keep your dog busy?

And on that note, it’s probably not a good day to share a recipe. But I would like to talk about my new obsession… yogurt!

My husband will tell you that I go through “food phases,” where I’m obsessed with something for about two weeks and then I never want to eat it again ever. He dreads that some day one of my food phases will include something he loves dearly, and then he’ll never get to have that food again. What can I say? It’s possible!


We’re about one week in to my obsession with yogurt. I saw a post from Cookie Madness that mentioned a cool new yogurt, and it really resonated with me. I ran right out to a huge grocery store I don’t usually go to, and it was a mecca for yogurt… so many flavors and kinds, all invitingly arranged. I stocked up on Yoplait Greek Blueberry Yogurt, Stonyfield Organic Pumpkin Pie Yogurt – Limited Edition, Chobani Greek Yogurt, Stonyfield Soy yogurt and others. I don’t know what to tell you.. it was a yogurt frenzy.

So far I’ve loved pretty much all of them. The only one I didn’t like (at all) was Yoplait’s Whips – Chocolate Mousse Silk. I guess I want my chocolate to taste like chocolate, and not sour yogurt!

I’d never had greek yogurt before, and if you haven’t had it you’re truly missing out. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what greek yogurt actually is, however.

Greek yogurt is, simply, yogurt that has been strained. You know how sometimes you open a cup of regular yogurt and there’s that watery film on top? That’s an example of not strained. To strain the yogurt they use some kind of filter or cheese cloth which removes the whey (whey or milk plasma is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained). So greek yogurt has a similar taste to regular yogurt, but it’s thicker – like the consistency of sour cream. Also because it’s strained it’s allowed to make claims like “2x the protein,” because it’s more condensed.

But is it healthier? Pretty much. You’ll find less artificial ingredients, additives and sugar in greek yogurt. And since it’s more condensed, it actually fills you up a little better. Unless the thought of thick, creamy yogurt is really off-putting to you… I strongly advise you run to the grocery store and engage in a yogurt buying frenzy of your own!

Simple – Split Pea Soup

I like simple. Simple pleasures, simple life, simple food. Simple is flexible. Go with the flow. Simple is something you can make when it’s 2am and you just got home from a late night at the bars and, suddenly, have this weird craving for soup. Yes sir, simple is my friend.

Split Peas

Take this recipe as a gentle suggestion on the path towards deliciousness; with many side trails to take and trees to climb. Don’t like the green color? Go with yellow, or half and half (I tossed in some leftover yellow). Tarragon not your thing? Go with thyme, or rosemary, or whatever fresh leftover herbs you have sitting in your fridge, otherwise destined for the trash. Go nuts. Hooray simple.

Split Pea Blend

Simple Split Pea Soup

1 onion; chopped
1 large carrot; chopped
1 celery stalk; chopped
1 russet potato; chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups split peas; rinsed and drained
4 or more cups of stock (or water)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt to taste

Heat your pot medium and sweat the onion, carrot and celery until the onion is transclucent. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until everything is soft and smells (tastes!) delicious. Remove from heat and let cool a bit and either blend with an immersion blender or in a standard drink blender a few cups at a time. Enjoy.