Feuerwehrkuchen (Fire Brigade Cake)

Feuerwehrkuchen is a special German cake – buttery base, luscious sour cherry filling, nutty crumble, topped with fluffy whipped cream. What a grand way to celebrate an important occasion or just coffee with friends. (Skip to recipe)

Feuerwehrkuchen - German Fire Brigade Cake - celebrate those special occasions with cake

Life is short. Celebrate with cake.

Those big moments of huge accomplishment, those little moments of quiet success; those are all worth celebrating. They’re what make this epic journey worthwhile, the milestones to mark our progress. It’s all too easy to let difficulties, disappointments, and failures define ourselves, to get swallowed up by them and forget about the joys in life.

We can just be trudging along, getting through the days, and the weeks, and suddenly it’s the years, if we don’t make an effort to punctuate the passing time with markers – events and experiences that wave their arms and shout out, ‘This is important! This is special! This happened now!” We need to be more deliberate in finding joy in our lives.

So, I vote for celebrating everything and anything, great or small. Set the table with your best dishes, put on your favourite music, and light a candle while you eat your grilled cheese sandwich by yourself, or pour a glass of nice wine and clink glasses with a loved one on a Tuesday night, or a pull out all the stops and make a fancy schmancy dinner to toast an accomplishment or milestone. Invite over your friends.

And for that you’ll need cake.

A simple cake, or maybe a special one.

Fuerwehrkuchen on red cake stand

Like this Feuerwehr cake. I’ve made it four times in the last six months: to celebrate a birthday, to share with friends, to celebrate our daughter’s completion of her Master’s degree, and just last night again to celebrate her boyfriend’s completion of his PhD – some huge accomplishments for sure. This German cake has become the favourite, oft-requested cake around here.

The rather unromantic name has little to do with the actual bliss-inducing powers of this delicious confection. Feuerwehrkuchen (pronounced foy’-er-vare-koo’-hen, with the ‘h‘ in ‘hen’ being forced up from the throat in that guttural German way) means ‘Fire Brigade Cake’, and nobody, not even the internet, seems to know where that name originates from. Was it first baked by firemen in a fire station kitchen (well-known for their fantastic cooking)? Is it because of the red, flame-coloured cherries hidden under mounds of whipped cream? Or maybe because of the layer of crumbles, resembling burnt rubble? Is it the dusting of cocoa on top, like a misting of fine ash? If you know the origin of the name, I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

Feuerwehrkuchen cloud of cocoa

I was given the recipe by my German friend and co-worker (and fantastic cake-baker), Ruth, at the German Language School where I teach. She got it from her sister in Germany, also a cake-baker extraordinaire (Germans know cakes!) and her sister got it from one of those little community cookbooks comprised of tried-and-true recipes collected from fantastic home cooks. Feuerwehrkuchen looks labour-intensive but it’s really not, if you break it down into smaller parts.

There’s the firm but tender, buttery, cakey/biscuit-like bottom layer holding up a filling of silky, sweet-tart sour cherries. That’s topped with a nutty, crunchy hazelnut crumble. After baking and cooling, the whole top of the cake is slathered with billows of barely-sweetened, Kirsch-kissed chantilly cream. Finally, it’s powdered with a whisper of cocoa dust.

Feuerwehrkuchen, smoothing in the crust

press and smooth the crust

defrosting cherries for the Feuerwehrkuchen

appreciating my stash of frozen Evans cherries

Feuerwehrkuchen Cherry Filling

sour cherry jewels

crumble on the Feuerwehrkuchen

everything’s a-crumblin

Feuerwehrkuchen ready to top

it’s even good eaten just like this

for a quicker version, simply spread the whipped cream on top

for a quicker version, simply spread the whipped cream on top

dusting the Feuerwehrkuchen with cocoa

or go all out, and gild the lily

Such a delicious explosion of contrasting tastes and textures – not too sweet, but rich and tangy and perfect with a cup of coffee or a glass of champagne.

Celebrations deserve a little bit of effort and love. Putting in the time to make a lovely centerpiece like this beautiful cake is a gift given from your heart. It’s the gift of you. It says You’re special to your guests.

Take a look at your life. Find something to celebrate – even if it’s just the fact that you are alive and you can eat cake.


Kitchen Frau Notes: I’ve adapted the recipe for ingredients we have here in Canada (the cake is also wonderful with frozen raspberries if you don’t have frozen sour cherries or can’t find canned ones). I’ve played with the base ingredients to make this cake gluten free, and it is every bit as good as the regular version. If you need to make it dairy-free, use coconut oil or non-dairy margarine instead of butter in the base and crumble layer, and omit the final layer of whipped cream and serve slices of the cake with whipped coconut cream or your favourite non-dairy whipped topping to dollop on top.

Feuerwehrkuchen is traditionally made with sour cherries, but frozen raspberries make a very delicious substitute. Just use 4 cups (50ogms) of individually frozen, unsweetened raspberries instead of the frozen cherries.

I have not tried the cake with any other gluten-free flour except my own g.f. flour mix, so cannot speak to how it turns out if you use anything else.

I prefer to use organic cornstarch (found in health food stores) to avoid using genetically modified corn, which most regular cornstarch is made from.

a slice of German Feuerwehrkuchen is a lovely way to celebrate


Cake Base Layer:

  • ¾ cup + 1 tablespoon (180gms) butter
  • 6 tablespoons (70gms) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2½ cups (350 grams) flour (or for gluten free – use 2 cups/280gms of my gluten-free flour mix + 2/3 cup/75gms almond flour)

Cherry Layer:

  • 2 jars (about 540ml each) pitted sour cherries – or use 4 cups (500gms) frozen, pitted Evans sour cherries or raspberries, defrosted + ½ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (40gms) cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Kirsch (clear, distilled sour cherry brandy)

Streusel Layer:

  • ½ cup (70gms) flour (for gluten free use my gluten-free flour)
  • 6 tablespoons (70gms) sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (70gms) butter
  • ¾ cup (70gms) ground hazelnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Whipped Cream Layer:

  • 1½ cups (360ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons Kirsch
  • unsweetened cocoa powder (¼-½ teaspoon)

Make the Cherry Layer first so it can cool.

*If using sour cherries from a jar: Drain the cherries, reserving the juice. Measure the juice and use 1 cup (save the rest for another use). If there’s less than 1 cup, add water to make 1 cup and place the juice in a saucepan.

*If using frozen sour cherries or raspberries: Defrost the cherries, reserving their juice. Strain the defrosted cherries and measure the juice. Add enough water to make 1 cup. Pour the juice into a saucepan and add the half cup of sugar.

Whisk the cornstarch into the cherry juice until no lumps remain. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the juice thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the cherries and the Kirsch. Set aside to cool.

Make the streusel next: In a small bowl combine all the streusel ingredients. Rub with your fingers until the butter is well-incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Make the base layer: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and salt. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat well, scraping down the bowl to incorporate all the butter. Add the baking powder and the flour (or gluten-free flour mixture) and mix until smooth.

Grease a 9-inch (24cm) springform pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Grease the paper, too. (I like to use a cooking oil spray.)

Scrape the base layer dough into the pan. Use your fingers to press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan and about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the pan (until it’s about an inch from the top of the pan). Use the bottom of a small measuring cup or glass to push into the dough against the sides all the way around to ensure your side-crust and corner aren’t too thick. Push down against the top of the side-crust of dough with your fingertips to make it even all the way around.

Pour the partially cooled cherry filling over the base. Sprinkle the streusel crumbs evenly over the cherry filling.

Bake the Feuerwehrkuchen for 45 to 50 minutes, until the streusel is golden brown on top.

Let the cake cool in the pan until completely cold.

Whip the cream with the cornstarch and sugar until of spreading consistency. Add the vanilla and Kirsch and whip for a few seconds more to incorporate.

Remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake onto a cake platter (you can leave the base layer underneath if you wish, or carefully use two spatulas to transfer the cake off the pan base and onto a plate).

Spread or pipe the whipped cream over the top of the streusel layer, bringing it as close to the edges as possible. Use a fine-meshed sieve to sprinkle a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder over the top of the whipped cream.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Guten Appetit!


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Feuerwehrkuchen is a special German cake – buttery base, luscious sour cherry filling, nutty crumble, topped with fluffy whipped cream.


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Posted in Cakes, Bars, & Squares, German Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Evans Cherry Ginger Oat Crumble Bars

Use up some of your abundant Evans cherry harvest or raid your freezer stash for these delectable Oat Crumble Bars. The ruby red sour cherry filling peeks out between crumbly layers of sweet buttery oats. Warm ginger sings harmony, a delicious counterpart to the tangy fruit. (Skip to recipe)

Evans Cherry Ginger Oat Bars

If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits?   Erma Bombeck, 1978

Well, I’ve been in the pits and in the juice, and in the trees and in the pails and in the jars – I’ve been in the cherries.

It’s been cherry season at our place. Evans sour cherry season.

Evans Cherry Harvest; look at those plump berries

Cherries everywhere, man.

Evans Cherry Extravaganza

There are delicious preserved cherries in the dehydrator, regular dried cherries out of the dehydrator (and another dehydrator-full humming in the background, out of sight), gallon jars full of cherries soaking in brandy, smaller jars of cherries soaking in vinegar solution for shrub (recipe coming soon), and a pan full of Evans Cherry Ginger Oat Crumble Bars – the third one this week! Plus I’ve pitted and frozen bags full, made juice concentrate, Evans cherry vinegar, cherry pie, cherry crisp, and we’ve eaten our share of the tart jewels fresh.

We’ve had fun picking cherries with friends, but mostly I just run out in my pyjamas and rubber boots to quickly pick a pail in the morning so I can get them going for the day. I’m cherried out. But it feels good.

Evans Cherry harvest; my helper

sometimes I have a helper – she waits eagerly to gobble up any cherries I drop

It’s the kind of good feeling that comes of preparing food for the winter, of using up the harvest and not wasting a bit. It’s the kind of good that was drilled into me since I was a small child, helping mom pick fruit or can vegetables from our garden. It’s the kind of good that I can’t fight – no matter how I try.

I am genetically programmed not to let food go to waste.

And sometimes it can be a curse. Because I need to use up every. . . little. . . bit.

Growing up with parents who lived through war, fled as refugees, and relocated halfway across the world as immigrants, you grow up with that fear of hunger instilled in you, even if you’ve never been hungry yourself. You know better than to waste anything. You are taught to use up and appreciate every bite of food you take.

  • You gnaw the meat off your chicken bones until they are glistening clean. (You then rinse them and make soup with them.)
  • You eat your apple cores until there are only a few seeds and a stem left.
  • You wash and re-use all plastic bags and even plastic sandwich wrap.
  • You carefully unwrap gifts without tearing the paper and reuse it again and again.
  • You suck peach pits until every little string of fruit is removed from the crevices.
  • You pour water into the last dregs of the ketchup bottle (and shampoo bottles), shake it and use it until there isn’t a drop remaining. You then repurpose the empty ketchup bottles to store your homemade syrups and sauces.
  • You mend shoes and patch clothing.
  • You reuse wax paper for sandwiches until it tears to shreds.
  • You carefully take apart brown paper bags to use as wrapping paper and writing paper.
  • You turn leftovers into casseroles and leftover casseroles into soups.
  • You make your own food from scratch even when it’s easier to buy it from the store.
  • You forage for all and any wild foods in season.
  • You scavenge neighbours’ fields after harvest, and you accept all offers of fruit windfalls.

You get the picture.

We live in a land of plenty now. And I still can’t shake those ingrained habits. I do now throw out used wax paper and sandwich wrap (even though I cringe when I do it). And I can even force myself to throw leftovers to the chickens because I’ve learned the hard way that creating a whole new dish just to use up that leftover bit of off-tasting sauce sometimes creates more waste when the new dish isn’t eaten. I even throw out the gnawed-on chicken bones, now.

But I still can’t waste the harvest off a beautiful loaded fruit tree.

Evans Cherry Ginger Oat Bars; tree full of cherries

So I give it away and freeze it and can it and preserve it. Even if there is so much of it we can’t eat it all.

Because it can feed someone who might be hungry.

Evans Cherry Ginger Oat Squares

* * * * *

These crumbly oaty bars remind me of the comfort food of my childhood – special treats my mom baked for coffee time or company. The luscious sour cherry filling and warm kick of ginger laced through buttery crumbles are a wonderful treat with a hot cup of tea or cold glass of milk.

 Kitchen Frau Notes: For an easy trick to pit Evans cherries, click here.

If you don’t have Evans cherries, other sour cherries would work, too, or you can use raspberries.

I prefer to only use organic cornstarch, since corn is one of the most genetically modified plants out there. At least when I’m using organic, I know it’s not a GMO. It’s a bit harder to find (health food stores) but I buy a lot at a time, since it lasts forever.

If you’re allergic to corn, you can use potato starch as a substitute.

*For an egg-free version, replace the egg white with 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds stirred into 2 tablespoons water; let it gel for 5 minutes, then stir into the dough for the base.

If you’re not a fan of ginger – omit it from the base and filing, and increase the vanilla in the filling to 1 teaspoon.

  Evans cherry ginger oat crumble bars

Evans Cherry Ginger Oat Crumble Bars


  • 2 cups (350gms) pitted Evans sour cherries, fresh or frozen (or substitute with with fresh or frozen raspberries) – use slightly heaped cupfuls if frozen.
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or ½ teaspoon ground dried ginger)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (100gms) sugar (I prefer organic, evaporated cane sugar)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) orange juice (or apple juice)
  • ¼ cup (30gms) cornstarch (preferably organic)

Base and Crumble:

  • 1 cup (100gms) oat flour (gluten free if necessary)
  • ¼ cup (30gms) cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (70gms) coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2/3 cup (150gms) softened butter or coconut oil
  • 2 cups (180gms) quick oats (small-flake rolled oats, but not instant oats), gluten-free if necessary
  • 1 egg white

Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180°C). Grease an 8×8 inch (20x20cm) square baking pan.

Make the filling: Combine the sour cherries, ginger, vanilla, and sugar in a saucepan. Stir together the orange juice and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add it to the cherries. Bring the filling to a boil, stirring often. Then stir constantly as it thickens. Cook and stir for thirty seconds – the cherries will break up quite a bit. Set aside to cool slightly while you make the filling.

Make the Base and Crumble Topping:

In a bowl, combine the oat flour, cornstarch, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar. Add the butter and blend in with a mixer or rub in with your hands. Make sure the butter is very soft if using your hands. Blend in the rolled oats, again with the mixer or with your hands. Blend it only until the oats are incorporated and the mixture is still somewhat crumbly. Large crumbles are fine. Don’t blend so long that the mixture forms a ball.

Divide the crumbles into two equal parts. Set one half aside and mix the egg white into the other half to make a thick dough. Pat this dough evenly into the greased baking pan to form a base..

Spread the sour cherry filling over the base. Top with the remaining crumbles, breaking up any large ones with your fingers and sprinkling them evenly over the filling.

Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool.

Cut into 9 large or 16 small squares.

Guten Appetit!

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Cherry Ginger Bars Pinterest


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Posted in Cakes, Bars, & Squares, Fruit | 4 Comments

Basil Pesto – it’s like Green Gold

Intensely flavourful, herbal, cheesy, and garlicky – what’s not to love about fresh basil pesto? If you’ve got a bounty of basil in your garden, you’ve got the makings for this classic Italian sauce that livens up every dish you can think of to plop it onto.              (Skip to recipe)

ingredients for classic basil pesto with Parmesan and pine nuts

Tomayto, tomahto? How do you say it? How about basil – is it bay-zil or bah-zil?

Well I say bah-zil, and I like it that way. I guess it’s closer to the German word for the herb – Basilikum. Upon a little Wikipedia poking, it seems the UK and European pronunciation is bah-zil (ˈbæzəland the US pronunciation is bay-zil (ˈbzəl). Here in Canada, both tend to be used interchangeably.

However you say it, basil is a herb beloved by many people. Its name comes from Greek and means ‘king of herbs’. It’s quite delicate, as herbs go – not handling cold weather well, turns black quickly when cut or exposed to heat, freezing, or acid, loses a lot of its flavour when dried, and doesn’t keep more than a few days once cut. But basil’s fantastic fresh flavour is what makes it king of the herbs. It’s most often used fresh in recipes or added in the last few minutes of cooking to preserve that taste, which is herbal, slightly licorice, even a bit sweet and perfumey, yet pungent – hard to describe. Sweet basil (or Genovese basil) is one of the main herbs used in Italian cooking. Thai basil or lemon basil are very popular in Thai and southeast Asian cooking, and holy basil is widely used in Indian medicine and teas and in Ayurvedic practices.

And we love beautiful basil here in North America, too.

beautiful leaves for the basil pesto

a heaping pile of sweet basil

Basil is one of the herbs included in Italian seasoning mix and lends its flavour to many Italian dishes. It’s added to canned Italian tomato products and sauces. But the herb’s most well-known use is probably in that wonderful classic – basil pesto; vibrantly green and intensely garlicky, slightly cheesy, pungent, yet with that herbal sweetness that comes from using fresh basil leaves.

classic basil pesto, with pine nuts and garlic

With a jar of basil pesto in your fridge you’ve got the makings to elevate any meal to gourmet status. Slather it on pasta of course, but you can also coat steamed new potatoes with it, add a spoonful to vinaigrettes or salads, plop some on top of freshly grilled or pan-fried meats or seafood, stir it into eggs, plop it onto pizza, layer it on sandwiches and burgers . . . . the possibilities are endless.

a spoonful of classic Genovese basil pesto - so good

We’ve got a couple basil plants in our garden – enough to use in salads or on sandwiches, but not enough to really indulge ourselves or roll in it like I do in my fantasies. (That would be heaven!) So last week when a generous friend came visiting with a big plastic grocery bag stuffed full of fresh basil from her garden, I knew what I was going to do – after restraining myself from shoving my face into the bag, rooting my nose around in the fragrant leaves, and inhaling myself into a basil-stupor.

I knew I had to make pesto – lovely classic Genovese basil pesto. The word pesto comes from the Italian word pestare, which means to pound or crush. If I was going to be strictly traditional, that’s what I’d do. But I’m not (traditional, I mean). I’m lazy. Plus, I don’t have massive, muscly biker arms or Italian mama pesto-pounding shoulders. I use my food processor. I’m done in five minutes and have jars of beautiful green elixir to use fresh or to freeze for a taste of Italian summer when we’re in the depths of winter.

basil pesto ingredients in the food processor

smooth basil pesto

trimmings from the basil pesto

Earlier this year I made and froze a batch of out-of-this-world garlic scape pesto (also with the lazy food processor method), so now I’ve got some of both squirreled away in the freezer.

And if you’ve got a bounty of parsley on your hands – why not try the zesty Argentinian chimichurri sauce? Another amazing green-power flavour blaster!

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Don’t worry if you don’t have exactly the right amount of basil leaves on your hands – there’s no little kitchen police who define exactly what ‘lightly packed’ or ‘tightly packed’ means when relating to springy leaves. Just use a couple good big handfuls – anywhere from 2 to 4 cups of leaves would work. If you’ve got more leaves, just add a drizzle more oil at the end to get the right consistency.

The same goes for the other ingredients, too; a big handful of Parmesan, a small handful of pine nuts, and a sprinkle of salt work as well as the amounts I’ve given below. Trust your instincts. Go by taste.

classic basil pesto - green and flavourful

Classic Basil Pesto

  • ~3 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves (100gms), thick stems removed
  • ½ cup (60gms) grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup (35gms) pine nuts (or chopped walnuts)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle on top

Place the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Process until coarsely ground.

Keep the motor running and add the olive oil in a thin stream, until the pesto is emulsified and smooth with a slightly chunky texture.

Divide into jars, and smooth the surface of the pesto with the back of a spoon. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top and swirl the jar to coat the pesto evenly with the oil. This helps prevent the top from oxidizing and turning black. (And no worries – the blackened bits are fine to eat, even if they don’t look as bright and fresh.)

Fresh basil pesto lasts for up to a week in the refrigerator. If you can’t use it all up, pesto freezes well.

*To freeze pesto: Either fill ice cube trays with pesto and pop the frozen cubes into a freezer bag – they’ll keep for up to six months. Or fill small jars or containers, leaving a half inch headspace, then pour a slick of oil on the surface of the pesto, seal, and freeze for up to a year.

Makes 1 and 1/3 cups (320ml).

Guten Appetit!

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Rich and flavorful, classic Genovese Basil Pesto

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Posted in Condiments, Sauces & Dips, Herbs, How-to-Basics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Homemade Chili Powder

Raid your spice cupboard and quickly stir up this flavourful homemade chili powder. Ten ingredients that make a rich and complex mix. You won’t want to buy the commercially-made stuff again. (Skip straight to recipe)

homemade chili powder in a jar

Chili powder seems to be kind of a North American thing. We love our chili, don’t we?

When cooks in the rest of the world see the words ‘chili powder’ in a recipe, they think of straight-up ground chili peppers (which we would call cayenne). However, to us North Americans, chili powder is the prepared mix of spices that is the principle seasoning in that spicy ground meat and bean dish (though, no beans if you are a purist) called chili con carne or just chili. It’s also used to flavour many other Tex-Mex dishes. We tend to use chili powder liberally in all sorts of southwest-inspired foods like tacos, bean dishes, enchiladas, and pulled pork or carnitas.

homemade chili powder; 10 ingredients

There are as many recipes for chili powder as there are companies that make them, each with their own signature ingredients and varying heat levels. However, if you have a stocked spice cabinet, it’s easy to throw together your own homemade chili powder mix. Here’s a good base recipe, rich and complex, with a moderate heat level. You can take it from there – adding a touch more or less of each ingredient to suit your taste, or adding other favourite spices of your own. I love the subtle richness that comes from adding a bit of cocoa powder (an ingredient used in some savoury Mexican dishes, like molés).

homemade chili powder; layers of spices in jar

Try your homemade chili powder in this easy Number One Chili or in these super tasty Lentil Sloppy Joes.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: I’ve kept the heat level to moderate in this chili powder mix, preferring to add spice to individual dishes if I want them ‘hotter’. That way I can customize recipes by adding more cayenne or chipotle or fresh hot peppers directly when cooking, depending on the crowd I’m feeding. (Or you can always pass the hot sauce at the table.)  However, you can also increase the amount of cayenne in the homemade chili powder mix if you’d like more heat.

easy homemade chili powder - 10 ingredients you probably have in your cupboards Homemade Chili Powder Mix

*All spices used are ground, except for the oregano which can be ground or the finely crumbled dry herb.

1 tablespoon of each:

  • cayenne pepper
  • chipotle pepper or smoked hot paprika
  • fine sea salt
  • sweet paprika
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • dried oregano
  • garlic powder
  • unsweetened cocoa powder


  • 1 teaspoon allspice

Mix all ingredients. Store in a sealed container in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Makes a generous ½ cup (about 80gms).

Guten Appetit!


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homemade chili powder, pinterest long

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Posted in How-to-Basics, Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

White Bean and Yellow Beet Hummus – a Great Snack for Sailing

This rich and luscious golden beet hummus is extra smooth and creamy. The beets add a silkiness that is hard to achieve with beans alone, and add a very subtle, sweet earthy flavour to this beloved dip. Plus a little trick in processing the hummus helps add to the creaminess, too. (Skip directly to recipe.)

white bean and golden beet hummus with veggies

‘The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” ~Jacques Cousteau

Well, lakes do that for me, too.

golden beet hummus; sailboat on Wabamun Lake

Being on the water thrills my soul. I grew up around boats – mostly river boats and motor boats, but the thrill was still born in me – the feeling of total freedom that comes when you skim the waves and feel all your cares just flitter away across the sparkling water. Bye bye worries. Or that feeling of weightlessness as you lay in a gently rocking boat, looking up at the blue, blue sky above you – fully understanding how tiny you really are within our vast universe. And how tiny your cares are, too. For a short while, you can forget it all and just imagine that you are heading off into the unknown, off into a bright blue future. Who knows where that boat may take you?

golden beet hummus; heeling sailboat on Wabamun Lake

I had my fix again this year; my boat-in-the-water-breeze-in-my-face sailing fix. Earlier this summer, Raymond and I had a skim across the waves with our friends. (Did I say before how lucky we are to have friends who own a sailboat?)

golden beet hummus; Skipper Ian checking out the sails

Skipper Ian checking out the sails

We hit a day of glorious wind again this year. Flying across the water in full sail, with the boat heeling so much I could feel the delicious spray and touch the cool water with my fingers, was a thrilling ride; soul-cleansing. I could feel the cobwebs blowing out of my head, leaving space for beautiful new thoughts.

golden beet hummus; out on the sailboat

Raymond at the tiller and Sabine watching the water

Then last week I got to go and play on the boat – our annual girl’s night sleepover (I guess Sabine decided she could brave my snoring for a night, once again!) Packing up my cooler of snacks and bringing my sleeping bag always feels like I’m heading off to grown-up summer camp, ready for adventure.

golden beet hummus; sailboats at Sunshine Bay Sailing Club

Adventure definitely called my name this time. Sabine and I headed off for a kayak trip to explore the little tributary we paddled into last year.

golden beet hummus; pushing off from the dock

Sabine set off first – notice how the water level is well below the dock?

We paddled into the reeds, up the little creek that felt like we were in another world – far from lake and land.

golden beet hummus; kayaking the tributary

golden beet hummus; kayaking near Wabamun Lake

uh-oh, can’t go any farther, a tree has fallen and blocks the creek

However, as I was paddling, I was having more and more trouble steering my kayak. It kept wanting to go in circles, and I’d have to compensate by paddling hard on one side to get it straight again, then it’d do a little pirouette in the other direction. Cantankerous thing! By this time I was saying some not-very-ladylike cuss words under my breath. It was more and more work. My bum shoulder was getting sore, and I just wanted to get back to the bloomin’ dock.

With a lot of effort and some more bad words, I got my wonky kayak to the dock – and then thought, “Uh-oh.”

The surface of the dock is about 2 feet above the water level. Somehow I had to heave myself out of the kayak, up onto the boards, without capsizing the very light and very unstable vessel. My shaking shoulders did not feel like they had the strength to pull my body weight up.

Well, you can imagine what happened . . .

Yup. More cuss words as the kayak wobbled this way, then wiggled that way, then did a nose dive and started filling with water – with me frantically throwing my camera onto the dock. I tried desperately to stay upright and keep my leather slip-on sandals on my feet (smart footwear choice, huh?), all the time trying to heave myself up onto the boards . . . to no avail. The kayak sank. I was in water up to my armpits. Luckily there was a fellow nearby tending his boat, and Sabine called for help. Between the two of them they were able to drag, pull, and flop me up onto the dock, where I lay ignominiously – a streaming, water-logged, red-sweatered whale.

Thankfully there were no photos to document that little adventure.

golden beet hummus; drying clothes on the sailboat

my soggy clothes drying on the boat

After drying off and a change of clothes, it was heaven to sit on the boat, drink in hand, nibbling a few appetizers and watching the sunset. Looking back, I realized my problem had probably been that I’d forgotten to put my feet against the footbraces in the kayak (thinking of canoeing), and maybe been putting pressure unevenly on the floor of the kayak, causing me to go in circles. Either that or my kayak was possessed!

Enough water for one day.

golden beet hummus is part of our snack selection on the boat

Time for those nibbles. We feasted on smoked salmon with horseradish cream cheese and mini buckwheat blintzes, olives, and this amazingly creamy golden beet hummus with veggies. I even cut a raw golden beet into sticks as part of the dipping veggies – yummy!

golden beet hummus goes good with a drink at the end of the day


We love hummus, and even though you can buy tubs of hummus everywhere, it’s so easy to make your own. Cannellini beans and golden/yellow beets make a fantastic difference – the dip becomes lusciously silky and smooth. These beautiful beets are from Peas on Earth organic farm, at the Strathcona Farmers Market. They turned my hummus from ordinary to out-of-this-world.

beautiful golden beets for beet hummus

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Hummus freezes well. I like to keep half the batch for eating fresh and freeze the rest in a small freezer-safe container for another day.

Hummus gets much more mellow after the first day. So if you find the garlic taste too strong when it’s freshly made, wait a day. Conversely, if you find the hummus has lost some of its oomph on the second or third day, give it another squeeze of lemon juice to freshen it up.

Whizzing the lemon juice, oil, and tahini together first gets them to emulsify and get creamy before you add the beans and beets. This step helps make an even more creamy dip.

*To cook the beets, trim off the tops, scrub them, and cover them with water in a large saucepan. Bring them to a boil, lower the heat and cover the saucepan. Simmer the beets until tender when pierced with a fork. This can take anywhere from a half hour to a full hour, depending on the size of the beets. Drain. Set a colander in the sink under the water tap. Hold the beets under the stream of cold running water and rub off the skins with your fingers. The colander will catch the skins. You can also wrap the beets in tin foil and roast them in the oven at 400°F/200°C until tender, then remove the skins with a paring knife.

white bean and golden beet hummus with dipping carrot

White Bean and Yellow Beet Hummus

  • 1 can (14oz/398ml) cannellini beans or white kidney beans (or 1½ cups cooked beans)
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) tahini paste
  • juice of one lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic (or 2 small ones)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1½ cups diced, cooked yellow/golden beets* (220gms), 2 – 3 medium sized beets

Set the beans aside in a sieve to drain (no need to rinse them).

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne. Whiz until the ingredients are creamy and emulsified.

Add the beans and diced beets, and whiz until very smooth. This may take several minutes.

To serve, drizzle with a bit of extra olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika or cayenne, if desired.

Serve with raw veggies, crackers, or pita bread pieces for dipping.

Freezes well.

Makes about 2½ cups.

Variation: Use red beets for a beautiful, brilliant, magenta-coloured beet hummus.

Guten Appetit!


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White Bean and Golden Beet Hummus - silky, smooth, and luscious. A subtle earthy flavour.

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golden beet hummus; sign at the sailing clubhouse

drinks on the deck after a sail

golden beet hummus

sunset at Wabamun Lake

golden beet hummus; sailboats at sunset

Posted in Appetizers, Beans & Legumes, Condiments, Sauces & Dips, Snacks | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments