The Recipe ReDux: Watermelon Ginger Salad & Almond Cookies

Almond Cookies & Watermelon Salad

My four-year-old asked, “Mommy, is it still summer vacation?” It was a rainy day and we’d just dropped my other daughter off at her first day of second grade. But I enthusiastically answered, “Yes, at least until Labor Day!” So with summer vacation memories still very fresh in my mind, I’d like to share about one of my Most Memorable Vacation Meals…which is this month’s theme for The Recipe ReDux.

watermelon mint salad

Chinese apothecary

A few weeks ago, I took my three kids to Chicago’s Chinatown. I wanted them to be able to visit some of the apothecary/Chinese medicine shops, buy a cool Bento box lunchbox for school, and eat some ‘real’ Chinese food. The hospitable shopkeepers gave them all sorts of samples of dried fruit at the Chinese medicine shop: Crystalized ginger, papaya, mango, and kumquat. And instead of picking one restaurant for dinner, we trouped around to several shops and picked up mochi cakes and almond cookies from the bakery, udon noodles at one place and at another restaurant a few other items for our Chinese smorgasbord: Stir-fried vegetables with tofu and seafood, lotus root and celery salad, Papaya with white fungus in sugar syrup, and a red bean iced bubble tea. What fun it was to introduce them to some new foods! And honestly, I was so proud; they tried everything and we ate up almost every morsel!

Chinese almond cookies

Top to bottom: Papaya & White Fungus Salad in clear cup, tofu & seafood stir-fry, lotus root & celery salad, red bean bubble tea

Now one of my Recipe ReDux colleagues, Gretchen has already shared a brilliant Chocolate Mochi Cake recipe, so I did not attempt to recreate. But I was totally intrigued by the light, crackly texture of the almond cookies…and, seriously, who could not be challenged by the idea of recreating a Papaya and White Fungus fruit salad? Honestly, the kids didn’t like it all that much – too many unusual textures and there was a flavor in the fruit syrup we couldn’t identify. So to help in our Reduxing, we went to the library and checked out three Chinese kid’s cookbooks. We found an almond cookie recipe and I’ve adapted it by adding less fat and sugar, a little whole wheat flour and making the cookies more of a kid’s sized portion. Not surprisingly, we found no recipe for white fungus salad. So instead, we decided to adapt a ginger watermelon salad to include some of the fresh mint from our garden and some of the crystalized ginger from the Chinese apothecary. Everyone was pleased with our ReDux recreations!

Chinese Almond cookies

Watermelon Ginger Salad

Makes 6

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup crystelized ginger, finely chopped
  • watermelon, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons (or so) of fresh mint, chopped

Directions

  1. Combine water, sugar and ginger in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 12-15 minutes until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and cool.
  2. At serving time, spoon about 1/4 cup of ginger syrup over every 5-6 cups of watermelon - or to taste. Add mint and toss salad.
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Almond Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 24 whole, unsalted almonds

Directions

  1. Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine egg, milk and almond extract.
  3. Pour melted butter into flour mixture, then add milk mixture. Use a fork to combine all ingredients to form a soft dough. Then use your hands to gently knead in the bowl to make sure all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  4. Spread plastic wrap on counter, place dough on top and shape dough into a round log about 12 inches long. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.Unwrap dough and place on lightly floured surface. Cut into 24 slides and roll each into a ball. Place on lightly greased sheet pan and gently place almond in the center, flattening the cookie ball slightly.
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes or until they are just lightly browned; for chewier cookies bake 15 minutes for crispy bake 17-18 minutes. Remove from pan to cooking rack immediately after removing from oven.
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Comments

  1. I LOVE the story behind these recipes! What a fun event for you and your children! Chinatown is quite impressive, and I’m just imagining what it must’ve been like through the children’s eyes ;). And it’s awesome that you’re introducing them to diff cuisines! I’m a HUGE fan of mochi cake..and bubble tea..oh boy. The salad sounds so refreshing! Thanks for sharing! And thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to become a recipe reduxer!

    • Thanks Min! We’re so glad to have you. And yes, it was really fun to experience it all through my childrens’ eyes! (:

  2. That Watermelon Ginger salad sounds so refreshing! A perfect way to keep the summer flavors flowing right till the end! {I’m certainly not ready for the fall pumpkin craze yet!} And your kids are adorable, by the way.

    • Thanks Stephanie! I’m so not ready for pumpkin yet either…the cantaloupe are just ripening in my garden so think I’ll sub them for watermelon next time!

  3. So the world knows, the dad and husband was running a 5K along the Chicago lakefront while all this foodie adventuring stuff was going on.

  4. Wow! I am so impressed by how adventurous your kids are, and also by all the research you did for this post :-). The watermelon salad sound delicious, as do the almond cookies! Aren’t Chinatowns the best? I recently took my kids to a big Asian market in San Diego-talk about a different experience. My daughter was a little overwhelmed by all the smells, especially from the huge display of fish! Enjoy the rest of your summer :-)

    • I saw your post on the Asian Market! So fun, EA! Honestly, I didn’t include the photo of my 4 y o daughter with her nose held the entire time we were in the apothecary!

  5. What a fun expedition for your kids! My nearly-6yo loves fresh ginger, and I bet he’d think the candied version in your salad is great.

    • Kat the candied version is spicy! But the kids felt adventurous when eating!…and of course it’s sugar coated so that helps!

  6. I can’t wait to try the watermelon ginger combo…why didn’t I ever think of that?

  7. Love reading about your kids! I’ve always wanted to make almond cookies…I believe now is the time with your recipe! :)

  8. Wow – your kids are so adventurous! Sounds like they were exposed to lots of pretty exotic food. Both of these re-creations sound wonderful.

  9. YUM!
    I just love almond cookies. Glad you found a way to healthify them a bit.
    Your kids are too cute. I love that they were all about trying new foods. :)

  10. Love your recipe redux! It’s great you were able to include your kids and make it both fun and educational! I have a question: Do you know anywhere else you would find crystalized ginger besides a Chinese medicine shop?

  11. Such a wonderful adventure Serena with very adventurous kids! I lived in Hong Kong for two years and loved roaming the Chinese medicine shops. And my colleagues at work would snack on salted dried bitter plums or berries. Super Tart for my palate accustomed to sweeter fruit.

  12. I love both of your recipe. The syrup for the watermelon sounds so refreshing … and the cookies (with whole wheat flour) are right up my alley. Sounds like your trip to Chinatown was quite an adventure.

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