A Beggar’s Purse fit for a King!
By Dennis Linden
Here’s a fun-to-make, creative appetizer just in time for the holiday entertainment season, submitted by Kelly Rowe, Melissa’s always-inventive Art Director. Kelly’s recipe bundles a tasty collection of flavors in a phyllo pastry “purse” that is guaranteed to be a conversation starter on any party platter. “I got this recipe from a friend long ago; it’s been a big hit at several dinner parties,” explained Kelly, adding: “This app has become a favorite go-to finger food of mine whenever we entertain because the filling ingredients can be flexed to reflect seasonal availability or, for that matter, sometimes it’s great fun just to use whatever I can find in the fridge to combine into a tasty mix while the dough is defrosting.”
This version of Kelly’s pastry purses are filled with the hearty taste and texture of shiitake mushrooms laced with the distinctive flavors of Hatch chile pepper, garlic and shallot, all blended in a creamy stroganoff-like sauce. It’s a finger food delivered in a surprise package of delicate flaky crust, baked to a golden brown and tied together with a chive ribbon. The chive is a nice touch as it adds a bit of whimsy and color to the presentation as well as leaving its own tiny hint of fresh chive-ness on the tip of the palate with each creamy-flakey bite! Party Platter sidebar: The measurements in the recipe below will make 12 individual “purses” of medium (two-bite) size. Once tasted, it will become obvious that unless your party head-count is an intimate evening for just two, you are going to need to at least double, if not triple, the formula for a larger group. While these little morsels of delight are quite rich, they are also equally addictingly delicious: no guest will be able stop at just one!
Born without a baker’s thumb, I had not worked with phyllo dough in quite some time, so it did take a few sacrificial sheets before I got the hang of it again. Kelly suggests covering the dough with a clean, damp kitchen towel while working to prevent the sheets from drying out and curling. Phyllo sheets are paper thin and very delicate to work with, especially quickly. In fact, Kelly also advises that his purses are a lot easier and more fun to make if the process of layering and buttering the sheets is shared as a two-person job. I must agree, as at one point during my prep I could have used a second pair of hands and, admittedly, might have uttered a few culinary expletives in phyllo frustration during my first few attempts at purse making! However, it took a very short time to master the procedure and soon I was a honed pastry machine. Well, maybe not quite machine-like, but at least this mostly savory dish cook finally did make something with dough that actually turned out! In hindsight, these little purses were quite fun to figure out how to perfect and I certainly look forward to trying them again at the next potluck invite -- an appetizer just waiting for a party!
As one can imagine, considering Melissa’s large line of branded products and all that goes into the visual side of marketing the MELISSA’S label nationally, Kelly Rowe has been at the helm of one of busiest departments in the company for some twelve years. Kelly designs all packaging and Point of Sale printed material that support each of Melissa’s fresh and made-from-fresh line of produce and products at retail level. He is also responsible for all graphics for industry trade shows as well as our truck graphics, food photography, and print production coordination. It’s quite a juggling act that Kelly handles with a professional calm that belies the daily deadline pressures that come with his job.
Kelly continues this multi-tasking lifestyle outside of the office in managing his many interests. “I'm into traveling, kayaking, sailing, cooking, as well as just hanging out with my family and grand kids,” said Kelly. This is Kelly’s second contribution to this feature that has had a sort of culinary arts ‘n crafts process to it. His last recipe had us making ravioli - See “Pink Pumpkin Raviolis” and this time he teaches us how to twist-tie pastry purses with a chive! So we look forward to the next recipe “construct” from the culinary drawing board of Artist-Chef Kelly Rowe!
Mushroom & Garlic Phyllo Beggar’s Purses
Makes 12 appetizers
1½ tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 tablespoons Butter, divided use
10 ounces Shiitake Mushrooms, finely minced
1 Hatch Chile, roasted, seeded and finely diced
6 cloves Melissa’s Fresh Peeled Garlic, minced
1 Shallot, minced
¼ teaspoon Fresh Thyme
½ teaspoon White Pepper
Sea Salt, to taste
6 ounces Sour Cream
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
1 package Frozen Phyllo Dough Sheets
1 package Fresh Chives
Heat oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauce pan. Add mushrooms, garlic and the rest of the filling ingredients, except the sour cream, then sauté until fragrant and heated through, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, spoon into a medium-sized bowl and let cool.
When filling is cool, stir in sour cream, mix thoroughly and adjust seasoning. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
Melt remaining 3 Tbsp. butter in a ramekin. Remove thawed phyllo from package and unroll dough onto a dry surface. Cut each sheet of dough in half across the middle to create 2 squares approx. 6” square. Place first half of dough on a dry cutting board, brush lightly with melted butter. Top with a second half at a 45° angle to the first and brush with melted butter. Repeat with 2 more half-sheets for a total of 4.
Spoon a golf ball-sized amount of filling onto the center of the phyllo dough. Gather the corners together like a handkerchief. Pinch and twist the dough just above the filling to form a purse. Make sure it’s secure, but not too tight or it may crack when baking. Do not leave any space in the dough above the filling or the purse will tend to fall over when baking. Place purse onto a baking sheet sprayed with olive oil cooking spray and then spray all the purses lightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 400°F until the tops are golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes or so.
Run 12-15 chives (for extras, in case some break) under hot water for a minute or so to soften. Tie 1 chive around the neck of each purse, serve warm or at room temperature, standalone or with a favorite dipping sauce.