Beggar’s purse is the name for an appetizer dish consisting of a mini crepe topped with a teaspoon of high-quality caviar and a dollop of Crème fraîche. The edges of the crepe are pulled up into pleats and tied with strips of chive so that the bite resembles a little purse.
This name was used by Barry and Susan Wine for this dish served at their restaurant, the Quilted Girrafe, in New York City during the 1980s.
The two had first enjoyed the dish in France, at La Veille Fontaine in Maisons-Lafitte, near Paris, served by chef Francois Clerc. Chef Clerc called the dish un aumônière which means “an alms purse.”
Since then, the dish has been cloned thousands of times and the name beggar’s purse has become a somewhat generic term applied to dishes with various toppings tied in a similar way to resemble a purse. In addition to crepes, filo pastry, wonton wrappers, or other wraps are used.
The types of filling that can be used are endless and only limited by the imagination. The dish can just as well be used with sweet fillings and become a dessert.
The name beggar’s purse is also sometimes used for an Italian pasta dish called sacchettini, which actually means “little purse.” A stuffed pasta similar to tortellini but with more filling, the edges of this pasta are bunched together so that the result resembles a little sack or purse.