Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here’s a luxurious little treat to make and serve at home that may bring to mind your most elite restaurant thrills.
It’s based on the beggar’s purse, a signature appetizer at the Quilted Giraffe, a groundbreaking ’80s-era New York City restaurant.
The beggar’s purse was a voluptuous serving of Beluga caviar and sour cream spooned onto the center of a crepe, the ends of which were then gathered up and tied with a bow of chive. The resulting little bag with the pleats at the top looked like a purse.
Caviar has been considered a decadent treat for ages. About 200 years ago, the United States produced so much of it, saloons used to give it away for free with a glass of beer. That changed, of course.
And as true sturgeon caviar (considered the very best) has become rarer, the price has become steeper.
In recent decades, American-made caviar has made a comeback. And the quality is excellent. You can find several American sturgeon caviars as well as many fish roes, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, paddlefish and bowfin. They’re all quite tasty and good alternatives for the budget-minded.
I’ve replaced the crepes with blini, the buckwheat pancakes on which the Russians serve caviar. I’ve also swapped in low-fat sour cream and added smoked salmon.
Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and has written three cookbooks, including “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”
Smoked Salmon and Caviar Bundles
If the idea of bundling crepes into a purse filled with salmon and caviar seems daunting, you also can prepare these as rolled “cigars.” Simply add the fillings to each crepe as directed, arranging them in a line down the center. Starting on one side, roll the crepe and fillings up, then tie across the center with a chive. Makes 8 bundles. Recipe is by Sara Moulton.
1/2 cup plus 2 tbls. 1 percent milk
1 large egg
2 tbls. vegetable oil, divided
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 tbls. all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Hefty pinch of sugar
8 fresh chives
2 ozs. smoked salmon, cut into thin strips
1 oz. black American caviar or salmon roe
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream or nonfat plain Greek yogurt
Zest of 1 lemon
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg and 2½ teaspoons of oil. Add the buckwheat and all-purpose flours, a pinch of salt, several grinds of pepper and the sugar. Beat just until combined. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. In a small saucepan, bring several inches of water to a boil. Add the chives and cook for 10 seconds, or until just wilted. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool, then pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
3. Brush a medium nonstick skillet with a bit of the remaining oil, then heat the pan over medium-high until hot. Add 1⁄8 cup of batter, then quickly lift and tip the pan to spread the batter evenly in a wide, thin circle. Let cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until the batter has set. Flip and cook for about 30 seconds. Transfer the crepe to a wire rack and repeat to create 8 crepes.
4. Working with one crepe at a time, in the center of each crepe, place an eighth of the salmon, 1 teaspoon of caviar, a heaping teaspoon of sour cream and a sprinkle of lemon zest. Fold the edges up over the fillings to create a bundle, then carefully tie it closed with one of the chives. Repeat with remaining crepes and serve right away.
Nutrition information per bundle: 100 calories (50 calories from fat = 50 percent of total calories); 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 50 milligrams cholesterol; 6 grams carbohydrate (0 grams fiber; 1 gram sugar); 5 grams protein; 150 milligrams sodium.