Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beggars Purses

Caviar is one of those things that everyone hears about but rarely ever eat. Why? Price. This recipe is for those of you who want to go out on a limb, or to indulge in one of your favorite hors d'oeuvre. The recipe per person will cost about 20 dollars. Stop now if you think that is too much for the gastronomic experience.

Most caviar is served with some creme fraiche on a blini or some type of fine bread, maybe topped with chives. Here, we are going to reinvent that typical serving method using the Quilted Giraffe's technique of replacing the blini with a crepe. We will also replace the creme fraiche with sour cream to provide a more American take on this serving method. To finish, we wrap up the crepe into a "purse" and tie it off with a few blanched chives.

If you need help making a crepe here is a good video to learn from:
Obviously the crepe recipe I am using is different. The point of this video is to learn how to cook the crepe. Remember what you saw in the video when making these and you'll do just fine. If you mess up a few its okay. There should be a few left over to make all the purses.

After making the crepes this recipe is a cinch. What may not be a cinch is getting a hold of some caviar. Luckily, I know just the place to get it if you live in Albany. Adventure in Food is a local wholesale distributor of specialty food products which I just recently visited for the first time. While they mostly cater to restaurants, they have no problem selling food to the adventurous home cook. Most of their products are sold in bulk size quantity but this should not deter you. You can cash in on some serious savings if you buy things that you go through fast, or when you want to make a lot of something at once. More importantly, their meat selections are diverse and priced competitively. I got a premium filet of beef for this Thanksgiving for about 40 dollars less than I would have paid elsewhere.

Anyway, enough business promotions. Here's how to make beggars purses:

Beggars Pureses:

Filling:
2 oz. Caviar (Black domestic caviars are best for this recipe.)
1 bunch chives
Scant 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

Crepe:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup whole milk (Make sure its whole milk. The fat in the milk plays an important role when making crepes.)
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon finely chopped chives from the bunch

1. Brown the first three tablespoons of butter on medium heat until fragrant, being careful not to burn it. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
2. Add all the crepe ingredients in a blender except the chives and blend until it is evenly colored and smooth. Add chive and pulse twice. Let the batter stand to develop for 30 minutes. While you wait, get a pot of boiling water going in a medium sized pot.
3. Brush a nonstick skillet with a light amount of unsalted butter. Heat the pan over medium-high heat until its nearly smoking. Quickly stir the batter then measure a scant 1/4 cup of it.
4. Remove the skillet from the heat and without hesitation add the batter to the center. Gently rotate the skillet to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. Put the skillet back on the heat and let the crepe cook until you see a little browning on the bottom when you check underneath.
5. Loosen the crepe with a spatula and flip it over with your fingers. Let it cook until the batter is set and brown spots begin to show underneath. Remove the crepe and place it onto a plate lined with a paper towel to cool.
6. Make the rest of the crepes in the same manner being sure to reapply butter to skillet after every crepe is made.
7. While the crepes cool, prepare an ice bath for blanching chives. Pick out 8 to 10 of the longest best looking chives you have. Drop them in the boiling water and remove after 8 to 10 seconds. Drop them directly in the ice bath and remove when completely chilled. Pat them dry of water.
8. To assemble the purse, drop 1 tablespoons of sour cream in the center of the browned side of the crepe. Using a plastic spoon, (DO NOT USE METAL WHEN HANDLING CAVIAR. PERIOD.) carefully scoop 2 teaspoons of caviar onto the sour cream.
9. Gather the edges of the crepe and bunch them at the center to make a purse. Tie off the purse with one or two chives. Finish the other purses.
10. When you serve this, supply a separate plastic fork and knife to your diner, as metal will taint the delicate roe. Alternatively, you can use your hands to rip them in half and eat. (I actually prefer the hands on method.)

When you're done with all that work you should have something that looks a little like this:

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