Friday, February 10, 2012

Beggar’s Purse

           I love crepes! Not only because of the pleasure I get when I smell the wonderful aroma that the batter releases when it hits the hot pan, or when I see those lacy rounds on the serving plate or when I eventually take a first bite of a warm treat – crepes, from the culinary point of view, are very versatile. You can serve them plain – with butter, crème-fraiche, honey or jam, - and you can stuff them as well. There are dozens of fillings you may put inside and not a less amount of ways you can present the dish.

            One of the tricks that makes ordinary stuffed crepes look spectacular is gathering them around the filling and tying the ends with a blanched chive. Since the dish resembles a drawstring purse it is usually called “beggar’s purse” (or “aumoniere” in France). It is an elegant-looking, yet easy to make appetizer, which can be prepared with vegetables, meat or even with a sweet filling (in which case “the purses” are tied with the blanched citrus zest). Any sauce that, in your opinion, compliments the filling, would make the dish wholesome – it can even be some sort of a puree or a salsa that will add the texture to the dish. Last time I made the beggar’s purses with vegetable filling and I decided to make asparagus fondue to go with it – it was a beautiful, well-balanced dish which we both (my husband and me) enjoyed on a weekend morning!


80 gm plain flour
1 tsp sugar
a pinch of salt
1 egg
180 ml milk
2 tbsp canola oil
6 chives, blanched

1 tbsp olive oil
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
½ celery stick, chopped
½ small carrot, chopped
¼ medium green zucchini, chopped
¼ medium yellow zucchini, chopped
¼ red capsicum, chopped
¼ green capsicum, chopped
1 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped
2 tbsp heavy cream
Salt and black pepper to taste

Asparagus fondue
200 gm asparagus spears, blanched
70 ml heavy cream
Salt to taste


  1. For crepes, mix together the sieved flour with sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre and add a slightly beaten egg into it. Whisk starting in the centre and drawing in the flour. Add the milk, a little at a time, whisking until batter is the consistency of thick cream. Add 2 tsp of oil to the batter, cover it with a cling film and leave at room temperature to rest for one hour.
  2. Grease a 20 cm pan with some of the remaining oil and put it over high heat. Ladle in crepe mixture, turning the pan to coat the base completely. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes until golden and lacy. Turn over and cook for 10 – 15 seconds on the other side. Remove to plate. Repeat using the remaining batter to make 5 more crepes. 
  3. For filling, heat oil in another pan and sauté onion and garlic. Add vegetables, together with salt and cook till they are tender. Remove from heat, mix in the herbs and add the cream to help bind the mixture. Check the seasoning.
  4. For asparagus fondue, blend asparagus with cream, push the mixture through a fine sieve and season to taste.
  5. To serve, put 2 tbsp of filling in the centre of each crepe and fold it up neatly over the top. Shape the crepe into an evenly gathered purse around the filling. Secure it by tying a blade of blanched chive around. Spoon some fondue on the plate and place the stuffed crepe on top. Repeat to make 5 more serves.

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