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, but there was nothing beggarly about its contents. It was rich in all ways.
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.
This recipe is a Russian-leaning variation on the Quilted Giraffe original. 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 for the full-fat variety, and added smoked salmon to bulk up the protein. It’s still plenty rich.