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.

  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients (16)

For the filling:

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 ramps (wild leeks) or 1 large cultivated leek, cut into small dice
  • 4 stalks asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into small dice
  • 1 rib celery, cut into small dice
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 2 spring Onion:Onion:onions or 1 small yellow onion, cut into small dice
  • 1/4 pound fava beans or French green beans, cut into small dice
  • 1/4 pound morel or shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and cut into quarters
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

For the beggar’s purses:

  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste


To prepare the filling:

  1. Place the oil in a large sauté pan over low to medium heat. Add the ramps, asparagus, celery, carrots, onions, beans, mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper. Sauté, stirring often, until vegetables are soft but with no color, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Add wine and cook until the liquid is almost dry. Taste and adjust seasoning. Allow the vegetables to cool.

To prepare the beggar’s purses:

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Cut each phyllo dough sheet in half to form a total of 16 squares. Cover the phyllo with plastic wrap and a damp towel while working, so it does not dry out.
  3. Place one sheet of phyllo on your work surface. Brush a little oil all over the sheet, especially the edges of the phyllo. Place a second on top in the opposite direction to make a cross. Brush oil on top of the second sheet as before. Sprinkle a little of the chopped herbs, salt, and pepper over the entire surface. Place two more sheets in an X pattern on top of the previous cross pattern. Brush each sheet with oil before placing the next sheet on top. You will now have a stack of four squares.
  4. In the middle of the top sheet of phyllo, place one quarter of the cooled filling. Pull all the sides up toward the center to make a purse. Tie the top with a cotton string. Brush the outside of each purse with oil and season with salt and pepper. Continue the same procedure to make a total of four purses.
  5. Place the purses on a baking tray brushed with vegetable oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until phyllo purses become a light golden brown.

To Serve:

  1. Cut the string from the phyllo purses, place in a shallow soup bowl, and serve with seasoned vegetable stock.