A beggar’s purse was originally the name for an appetizer consisting of a mini crêpe topped by a teaspoon of caviar and then a dab of crème fraîche. It was made popular at the New York restaurant the Quilted Giraffe. Stu Stein’s beggar’s purse consists of a filled phyllo-dough pouch tied and baked to resemble a drawstring purse.
To prepare the beggar’s purses:
Advance preparation: The filling can be made a day or two ahead, but only fill and bake the purses when you are ready to serve them. The phyllo dough will get soggy if the purses are filled in advance and not baked immediately. The completed purses may be made several weeks in advance, placed in a sealed container, and frozen. Take them directly from the freezer to the oven when ready to bake.
Substitutions and options: Change the vegetables based on what looks best and has the best flavor in your market or garden. Use summer squash, corn, bell peppers, and basil in the summer months, or use autumn mushrooms and roots during the autumn months.
Add the filling to your favorite pasta to make a wonderful chilled vegetable pasta salad or a light vegetable pasta entrée.
Stein’s favorite substitute for phyllo dough is Feuill de Brik, a thin, savory crêpelike dough made without eggs. Use only one sheet per beggar’s purse.
Beverage pairing: You could drink a white wine with this dish, especially a Chardonnay with some richness and a touch of oak character, a quality that pairs well with the morel mushrooms in the filling. For a racier choice, choose a Zinfandel with a wild-berry character. The dish makes the wine classier, enabling the fruit flavors to shine. Recommended: 2001 Mission Hill Family Estate, Reserve Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia; or 2001 Green & Red, Chiles Mill Vineyard, Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California.