The “Faux Fish Cakes,” from fatfreevegan.com, were easy to eat and kid-friendly. The crispy edges of these salty cakes were great, but comparing them to “fish” is a disservice, I believe. No one needs to believe that these are or resemble fish. They don’t. Let’s call them what they are: “tofu cakes.” And fine tofu cakes indeed, with their celery crunch and dill perfume.

This recipe asks for 2 cups of cooked rice, but I added only 1 cup, without a problem. I formed eight cakes, measured at 1/2 cup each, and fried them slowly in grapeseed oil, until brown. My cakes were yellow-colored, like scrambled eggs, due to the inclusion of a generous amount of nutritional yeast, I’m sure. Be proud: these cakes are simply wonderful to serve.

And oh yes, I’ve once again made quinoa: the “Double Broccoli Quinoa,” from 101cookbooks.com, to be exact. I cooked black quinoa in vegetable-bouillon broth, and used frozen broccoli, to be extra-convenient. The broccoli “pesto” was garlicky, but the addition of heavy cream managed to smoothe that potential harshness. It was nice to taste broccoli, here. When I combined my dish, I added more than a mere 1/2 cup of the pesto. I also drizzled extra olive oil and added 1 tsp. kosher salt. The almond crunch was nice.

PRICES
Extra-Firm Tofu (1 lb.) = $1.56
Onion (1) = .39¢

RECIPES: fried tofu/rice cakes are winners, while broccoli and quinoa are a natural combination
PREP TIMES:
once you have (leftover Chinese?) the cooked rice, assembly and cooking is easy and quick for these cakes; quinoa needs 15 minutes to cook, frozen broccoli can be defrosted in the microwave, pesto is a snap in the food processor
TASTES:
the nutty/cheesiness of nutritional yeast mixes with the celery and dill to enhance the tofu cakes; garlicky broccoli pesto dresses quinoa ably

Next time, I want to cook the “Salmon Phở,” from the June 2011 issue of Cuisine at Home (recipe below), along with the “Spicy Lentil Tart with Pomegranate and Mint,” from 6bittersweets.com and veggienumnum.com. These will be fun. Come back to my site soon, to see what happens.

Salmon Phở with Traditional Garnishes
Cuisine at Home, June 2011
Makes 4 servings

For the broth, sauté:
2 cups sliced onion
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Add:
4 cups water
4 cups vegetable-bouillon broth
4 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
2 bunches fresh cilantro stems
shiitake mushroom stems

For the soup, season:
12 oz. salmon fillet
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground coriander
salt and black pepper
2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup very thinly sliced onion
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups cooked medium rice-stick noodles

Serve with:
bean sprouts
chopped scallions
torn fresh mint leaves
torn fresh basil leaves
torn fresh cilantro leaves
sliced hot chiles such as serranos or jalapenos
lime wedges

For the broth, sauté 2 cups onion, ginger and garlic in oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan.

Add water, broth, fish sauce, 2 Tbsp. sugar, soy sauce, cloves, cilantro stems, and mushroom stems; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a medium-low, and simmer broth 20 minutes.

Strain broth through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Return broth to saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

For the soup, season salmon slices with 2 tsp. sugar, coriander, salt, and pepper; set aside.

Add mushroom caps, carrots, 1/2 cup scallions, 1/2 cup onion, and 2 Tbsp. cilantro leaves to boiling broth.

Divide salmon and noodles evenly between soup bowls. Pour broth over servings.

Serve soup with bean sprouts, scallions, mint, basil, cilantro, chiles, and lime wedges.