Kernels of Time: Rice Cakes (with canteloupe tapenade)

Music Pairing: Duke Ellington, Come Sunday by Lara Downes


In response to the senseless atrocities of the current events, we felt like sharing a special impromptu pairing.  As the second-largest rice exporter of rice, Vietnam and its cuisine make an occasional appearance in our kitchen. A country with its own complexity and mystique, it has more significant tie-ins to our family, as Aaron’s birth father, Vaughan, a Black man raised as a Jehovah’s witness who served in the army during the war.  The connections all come together as we think of George Floyd and too many others lost senselessly during this deeply conflictive time.  Elements of loss, outrage, sorrow, and reflection are encompassed in making these reimagined Vietnamese rice cakes in a multiracial home that we built as a family. We think of Aaron’s childhood when he did not know his birth family and what it took for him to find them, what it means to know his father right now, as a Black man in America.  We process the sentiments wrapped in sharing these stories, this music and these recipes with our boys, who are brown and both of whom have so much of their father in them.   Periodically, a mood strikes and we think of recipes and tunes, but this time, we simply respond to the world around us and find solace in taste and sound, while capturing all of that in a collection of moments which comprise a story.  The story today is one of the past and present.  We are still writing its epilogue, one hopeful chapter at a time. Give this pairing a try, add a beloved classic by a dear friend and a wonderful pianist Lara Downes, and have yourself a splendid moment of remembrance and hope.  A straight bourbon may become a very nice addition to the polyphony of tastes, as well.


For the rice cakes

  • 1 cup of leftover white rice (can use quinoa or another grain, as well)
  • 5-6 asparagus stalks, chopped in very small pieces
  • ¼ habanero pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped very small
  • 1 egg white
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of olive or canola oil

For the tapenade

  • 6-10 cubes of cantaloupe
  • 1 tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil


Rice Patties

  • In small mixing bowl, combine the rice and all of the ingredients
  • Mix well, creating a well balancing mixture.  Set aside or place in fridge for about an hour is making later
  • Gently heat the oil and begin adding the patties of your preferred size (we used a tablespoon and pressed down to make them thin and crispy
  • Brown on each side to desired perfection and serve with the tapenade


  • Place the cantaloupe in food processor, add the mint leaves and process to a desired consistency
  • Remove and drizzle the balsamic
  • Serve with the rice patties
  • P.S. Humming the tune while enjoying is highly recommended

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