Category Archives: recipes

Labor Day Cookout Gourmet Feast!

Bye Bye Summertime! A Sophisticated Gourmet Labor Day Cookout Menu

Labor Day Cookout Gourmet Feast!

A Labor Day Cookout Feast! Left to Right: Bacon Scallops by Kate, Gourmet Chili Dogs by Bev, Succotash by Profiteroles & Ponytails, & Key Lime Pie by Galaxy Desserts.

It’s… inevitable. Summer, with all it’s fun under the sun, is almost over. Labor Day weekend  is almost upon us, and with it, the unofficial close to the summer season. But before we unpack the sweaters and bring out the comforters, there’s still time for a last summer hurrah! Get ready for a Labor Day Cookout! Celebrate a fun-filled, warm and beautiful long weekend with family and friends… and great food, of course!

Labor Day weekend celebrations are all about barbeques and grilling, picnics and cookouts, so we’ve prepared a summery Labor Day Cookout Menu for you, with recipes as fresh as they’re unfussy, as down-to-earth as they’re sophisticated, with the freshest ingredients of the summer season.

  Labor Day Cookout Menu

Grilled Bacon Scallops by Kate
Summer Succotash by Profiteroles & Ponytails
Gourmet Chili Dogs by Bev Cooks
Key Lime Pie by Galaxy Desserts


Grilled Bacon Scallops by

Bacon Scallops for a Labor Day Cookout

Summer on a stick! Photo: Bacon Scallops by Kate of

Start off your meal with an easy, summer-ready appetizer.  Plump sea scallops wrapped with bacon, brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and grilled to perfection.  Add a squeeze of lemon and you have the most delicious start to a Labor Day cookout. Grilled Bacon Scallops Recipe

Summer Succotash Salad by Profiteroles & Ponytails

Colorful Labor Day Cookout Salad

The most colorful Labor Day yet! Ph: Saccutash by Profiteroles & Ponytails

An outdoor meal is never complete without a fresh, seasonal salad. This Succotash Summer Salad by Profiteroles & Ponytails could just as easily be a meal by itself. Sweet corn, juicy grape tomatoes, plump edamame, avocado, onions and sweet pepper. Drizzle with some lime juice, olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and you’re done! Summer Saccutash Recipe


Gourmet Chili Hot Dogs by

Gourmet Chili Hot Dogs For Labor Day Cookout

(Hot) Dog days of summer! Gourmet Chili Hot Dogs, Ph:

A stylish, sophisticated version of an American classic we all know and love? That’s what we’re talking about! There’s no need to get complicated, to get gourmet. Bev of made these barkin’ hot dogs with grilled Polish Kielbasa, slid those puppies into fresh baguettes, then ladled a generous portion of her amazing sweet and spicy chili and finished off with shredded cheddar, diced onion and cilantro. This recipe inspired our Labor Day Cookout Menu, so run for the recipe, now!  Gourmet Chili Dog Recipe

Key Lime Pie by Galaxy Desserts

Key Lime Pie For Labor Day Cookout Desesrt

A flourishing finish! Key Lime Pie by Galaxy Desserts

Our Labor Day Cookout dessert is the most labor-less of them all! These gourmet key lime tarts are made by Galaxy Desserts in California, featuring an all-butter shortbread crust and a filling made out of real Key limes. Just take out of the freezer and serve. Order here >



Pain au chocolat - delicious flaky french bread filled with melted chocolate

Beyond the Baguette: Our Five Favorite French Breads Plus The Best Pain Au Chocolate Recipe Ever!

A recent New York Times article brought to light very distressing news to us. Forget the economy, global warming, and politics, the world is facing a…French bread CRISIS!  The article stated that, “the average Frenchman these days eats only half a baguette a day compared with almost a whole baguette in 1970 and more than three in 1900.”

Mon dieu!

The icon of French breads, a crusty baguette.

Simply perfect: the icon of French breads, a crusty baguette.

Take heart, baguette lovers, help is on the way! To counteract this unacceptable situation, the Observatoire du Pain, a lobby for bakers and millers, has started a campaign to promote the consumption of one of France’s most iconic food staples, French bread.

And because there’s nothing that we love more than a good food cause, we’re joining the cause, and giving French bread some love and attention. Here’s our list of Five Favorite French Breads plus, a delicious Pain Au Chocolat recipe to try your bread-baking hand at home.

Tackling the French bread crisis, one baguette at a time!


  1. The Baguette: the ultimate classic, this flute of crusty bread should practically be stamped on your passport when you enter the country.  A traditional baguette or “baguette de tradition” must, by French law, have the following ingredients: wheat flour, water, salt and yeast. Perfect in it’s simplicity! Don’t feel like baking? Try our frozen, ready-for-the-oven artisan baguettes by Bridor! Click here
  2. The Brioche: a mixture between bread a pastry, brioche is made with a super buttery dough, braided into the classic shape. But it’s the addition of sugar and eggs which makes this a sweet treat as well, perfect to make French toast (see below), or to eat with a cup of tea or coffee. Oh la la!
  3. Le Pain Perdu: Also known as the world-famous, USA-favorite, French toast! The name, pain perdu, means “lost bread”, so named (some say) because it was made using leftover, stale bread.  Well,  if stale bread dipped in eggs and fried turned into French toast, then not all is lost!
  4. Beignets: Probably just as much a tradition in New Orleans as in Paris, this doughnut is actually a deep-fried bread dough.  There are several variations of this, but the most well-known, at least in America, is the one popularized by New Orlean’s famed restaurant, Café du Monde. Theirs is fried in cottonseed oil and then liberally covered in delicious powdered sugar.
  5. Pain au Chocolat: last, but absolutely not all least, our favorite (and featured) type of French bread! The French call it “pain” (bread), but Pain a Chocolat is really a buttery and flaky croissant, filled with gooey melted luscious chocolate. Oh, oui!  We found the greatest recipe for a homemade Pain au Chocolat, by our featured blogger, Alexandra from Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker. It might take a few tries to get it right, but the results are completely worth it, we swear!
Pain au chocolat - delicious flaky french bread filled with melted chocolate

Pain au chocolat – delicious flaky croissants filled with melted chocolate! Ph:


Pain Au Chocolat by

3 hours, 30 minutes

15 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 12

Serving Size: 1 Croissant

Chillier afternoons calls for a hot cup of tea and a sweet treat. Try this sophisticated chocolate-filled French croissant, the traditional and delicious Pain Au Chocolat, and be immediately transported to belle Paris!


  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 11 tablespoons butter, divided
  • generous 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • generous 1 cup chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk


  1. In the bowl of stand mixer, dissolve the yeast into the lukewarm water and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter and combine with milk to cool quickly. Place another 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) out to soften.
  2. Add the melted butter, milk, bread flour, granulated sugar, and salt, to the yeast/water mixture. Mix on lowest speed for 2 minutes. If the dough seems tough, add another tablespoon melted butter. Change attachment to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for another two minutes. At this point the dough should be soft and supple.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle, 10" x 15". Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise for 40 minutes.
  5. Take the softened stick of butter and rub onto the rectangle of dough (Your hands will get very buttery). Rub on as much butter as possible, and then, with the shorter side facing you, fold into thirds, like you would a letter. Roll again into a 10" x 15" rectangle and fold into thirds once more. Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.
  6. Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll again into a 10" x 15" rectangle. Rub the remaining butter onto the dough, fold into thirds, roll out once more (10" x 15"), and fold once more.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut the folded dough into 12 rectangles, using 4 slices in the longer direction and 3 slices in the shorter direction.
  8. One rectangle at a time, with the shorter end facing you, place about 10 chocolate chips halfway along the rectangle. Fold the end closer to you over these chocolate chips, and repeat on the other side, adding chocolate chips to the other half and folding over the first half. Press end into dough to form a seam.
  9. Repeat the above process for each rectangle of dough. Place each pain au chocolat seam-side down on a lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until almost doubled in size.
  10. Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine egg and 2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl to form egg wash. Brush over each pain au chocolat. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, until puffed up and lightly golden.
  11. Enjoy warm from the oven, or store in refrigerator and microwave each pain au chocolat for 25-30 seconds when ready to eat.


Prep time includes resting and rising time for the dough.

Tea and fruit

The Art Of Cooking With Tea

Tea and fruit

You have probably heard about adding wine and even beer to certain dishes in order to bring out specific flavors and give your taste buds a more fulfilling dining experience. However, it’s not just beer and wine that can be used in foods.

An increasingly popular ingredient in a number of recipes is your one and only favorite hot beverage: tea. With its unique flavors and aroma, tea can turn a recipe into an exquisite dish that will make you feel you’re eating the food of the gods.

Firstly, you need to pay special attention when pairing up a tea with a meal and make sure that they do indeed complement each other. It can be a challenge to incorporate it into your favorite dishes, that’s why we have prepared a list of things to know before putting your chef’s hat on.

8  Tips for Using Tea as Food Ingredient

  1. There are several ways in which you can use tea as an ingredient in your food. The easiest way is by substituting the water or milk in your cooking with tea.
  2. When steam cooking, you can add tea leaves to the water or you can add powdered tea to your meal as you would add other condiments.
  3. For desserts, use brewed tea instead of water when melting butter or chocolate.
  4. When using tea as an ingredient, you should always take special care to pair your meal with the right kind of tea. The process is pretty much the same as if you were adding wine to your cooking. You need to select the right aroma to enhance the flavors in the meal.
  5. Use delicately flavored teas with light meals such as rice or chicken. Stronger, more aromatic teas can be used in dishes with a more dominant taste and abundance of various condiments.
  6. You can smoke or marinate meat using tea and tea leaves.
  7. Put tea leaves in the water, when cooking rice, fish or vegetables.
  8. The easiest way to start is to by following a few recipes before experimenting on your own.

There are hundreds of types of tea, each featuring a different aroma or flavor, but there are some general rules you should know before embarking on the journey of tea cooking. The following table will help you find the main tea varieties and help you choose the perfect one to use in you cooking.

Main Tea Varieties Table

Main Tea Varieties

Now to get you started, here are some mouthwatering recipes that include various teas as ingredients:

Rooibos Butternut “Pizzettas”

The sweet Rooibos flavor is the perfect complement to any squash. Make a generous batch of these because they are sure to get eaten up fast! They also make lovely appetizers when hosting a party, formal or informal functions.


  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of Rooibos tea leaves
  • 2 medium butternut pumpkins
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil leaves
  • Pepper


  • Preheat your oven to 425°
  • Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of tea. Remove from heat once it begins to foam. Cover and allow it to stand for 10 minutes.
  • Strain the butter and discard anything caught in the sieve.
  • Cut off the pumpkin at the neck. You will only need the unseeded portions of it.
  • Use a knife to cut off the peel and trim the top of the butternut pumpkin.
  • Cut into half inch thick slices.
  • Oil your baking sheets lightly and place the sliced pumpkin on them. Leave space between each slice.
  • Crush the left over tea leaves (if they aren’t already crushed fine) and mix with salt.
  • Use a basting brush to spread the infused butter over the tops of the slices.
  • Season with pepper and the Rooibos tea / salt mixture.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes or until soft.
  • Place on a platter and garnish with basil.

Cooking with Tea: Tea soup

Darjeeling Dashi

Dashi is a type of Japanese soup stock and has a number of uses in the kitchen. You can use it as a soup base, to deglaze pans and even to cook your rice. When making rice, use half the regular amount of water and fill in with an equal amount of dashi.


  • 2 tablespoons of dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 ounce of dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of aka (red) miso
  • 1 tablespoon of Darjeeling tea leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce and honey with 1 quart of water.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and wisk in the miso, tea leaves and salt.
  • Allow the mixture to steep for 5 minutes.
  • Use a fine-mesh colander to strain the mixture.
  • Save the mushrooms for use in other dishes or in the dashi itself when served as a soup.
  • Allow it to cool and use immediately or store in a glass jar for up to 1 week.

Jasmine Tea Rice

Jasmine Tea Rice

This is a wonderful recipe that you can use to include the spicy pleasures of jasmine tea. Jasmine tea rice makes a fantastic side dish and can be served with a variety of meals.


  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of Jasmine green tea
  • 1 1/2 cups of jasmine white rice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt


  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  • Place the tea in a heat resistant bowl and cover with the hot water.
  • Allow the Tea to steep for 5 minutes and strain into a saucepan through a sieve.
  • Allow the tea to cool.
  • Rinse the rice with cold water until the water is clear (not milky or cloudy).
  • Add the rice to the tea and add the salt.
  • Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • Place the saucepan over a medium-high heat and cover.
  • Bring it to a boil and reduce to simmer for approximately 17 minutes.
  • Allow to stand for 5 minutes after cooking before you serve.

Your kitchen awaits! Put on that apron and start brewing. Your family is going to think you have started cooking classes and they will certainly ask for seconds!

Written by RiverTea - a community of tea lovers, with a life mission to accompany you on your journey to discovering the flavourful universe of teas.