Pascale's Kitchen: A joyous Mimouna

One Mimouna tradition is to place a bowl of flour in the center of the table with five gold coins, five green beans and five dates inside of it.

In traditional dress with cookie maestro Avivit Dadon (right) (photo credit: SHIRA BAR)
In traditional dress with cookie maestro Avivit Dadon (right)
(photo credit: SHIRA BAR)
Mimouna is a North African Jewish celebration on the day after Passover, when it is allowed once again to eat hametz (leavened bread). Mimouna celebrations usually involve tables filled with tasty sweet treats and lots of joyous singing. I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to more than a few Mimouna celebrations hosted by friends who hail from a variety of traditions. No meat or savory dishes are served – only dishes made with milk, honey, coconut, sesame, almond, peanuts, jam and other sweet ingredients.
One Mimouna tradition is to place a bowl of flour in the center of the table with five gold coins, five green beans and five dates inside of it. Guests can then dip their jewelry inside the bowl of flour, which symbolizes the soil’s fertility and economic abundance. Some families also place a bowl of water with fresh fish inside, which symbolizes fertility and wealth.
One of the main dishes served at Mimouna is the mufleta – thin fried pancakes. This year, I hosted Avivit Dadon, who makes the most amazing Moroccan cookies in the world. Growing up, they would prepare a semolina dessert called Birkukash that’s cooked in milk and served with butter. In addition, I’ve included another few recipes that are perfect for serving at the Mimouna celebration.
Cherry hazelnut cookies and colorful coconut cookies (Shira Bar)Cherry hazelnut cookies and colorful coconut cookies (Shira Bar)
CHERRY HAZELNUT COOKIES
Makes 30 to 40 cookies.
200 g. blanched almonds
200 g. hazelnuts, peeled
250 g. sugar
3 egg whites from large eggs
30-40 cherry halves
Process the almonds and hazelnuts with a food processor. Add the sugar and mix again. Transfer to a bowl and add the egg whites. Mix well. Transfer to a pastry bag with a serrated edge. Line a baking tray with baking paper and squeeze out mixture to form spirals with a diameter of 2 to 3 cm. with at least ½ cm. between each one. Press a cherry half into each cookie. Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 170° for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.

COLORFUL COCONUT COOKIES
Makes 45 to 50 cookies.
½ kilo sugar
400 g. coconut flakes
1 packet vanilla sugar
Juice from ½ lemon
Food coloring or your choice
Toppings:
2 cups coconut flakes
Cupcake liners Number 1½
Place the sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon juice and water in a pot and cook over a high flame until it comes to a boil.
Lower the flame and continue cooking until it turns into golden syrup. Remove from the flame and add the coconut flakes. Mix well. Store in the fridge for two hours.
Separate syrup into two or three bowls. Add one or two drops of food coloring to each bowl. Mix well.
Form 2-cm. balls from the syrup and roll them in the coconut flakes and then place each one in a cupcake liner. Place in a container and store in the fridge.
Almond cookies (Shira Bar)Almond cookies (Shira Bar)
ALMOND COOKIES
Makes 30 to 35 cookies.
300 g. ground almonds
150 g. powdered sugar
Zest from 1 lemon
1 packet vanilla sugar
1 level tsp. baking powder
1 large egg
Food coloring
Topping:
1 cup powdered sugar
Cupcake liners Number 2
Mix the ground almonds, powdered sugar, lemon zest, vanilla sugar and baking powder in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, beat the egg. Add a little bit of food coloring and then pour into the dry mixture. Mix well. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Form balls of batter that are 3 cm. in diameter. Pour the powdered sugar into a bowl and then roll each ball in the powdered sugar. Place them in cupcake liners and arrange on a baking tray.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 170° for 10 to 13 minutes until the cookies burst open. Make sure not to overcook so that the cookies don’t get too hard. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
 Kumquat Jelly (Shira Bar)Kumquat Jelly (Shira Bar)
KUMQUAT JELLY
Makes 1.5 liters.
1 kilo kumquats, rinsed well and with the stems removed
800 g. sugar
1 cup water
1 packet vanilla sugar
Juice from 1 large lemon
Rinse kumquats well and then cut a shallow X into the bottom of each one on the end with the stem. Place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Pour out the water and repeat the process three times (this gets rid of the bitter flavor). 
In a separate pot, add the sugar, water, and vanilla sugar and cook over a high flame until the sugar dissolves. There’s no need to stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the lemon juice and kumquats. Cook over a low flame for 60 to 90 minutes until the kumquats have turned brown and slightly translucent. Transfer to a jar that has been sterilized and store in the fridge.

Javen (Shira Bar)Javen (Shira Bar)
JAVEN
Can be served alone or with hazelnuts, almonds or candies.
Makes 30 servings.
1 kilo sugar
2 cups water
1 packet vanilla sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
3 egg whites from large eggs
Topping:
25 walnut halves
Directions:
Heat the sugar and water in a pot and stir. Cook over a medium flame until mixture comes to a boil. Lower the flame and cook for 30 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and mixture has turned into a golden syrup. Add the lemon juice and continue cooking for another five minutes. Remove from the flame and let cool.
Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Slowly add the syrup next to the edge of the bowl. Whip for another 10 minutes. Transfer to a nice serving dish and adorn with walnut halves.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
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