Beggar’s Purse Crepes w/ Gorgonzola Sauce

Today July 25th, is my dear sister Loretta’s birthday. Having an older sister is a very unique experience that not everyone can truly know about. We are all products of our environment, and even if we are completely unaware of it, having that ‘big sis, little sis’ dynamic as you grew up, was a huge influence.

I remember how much I enjoyed being with Loretta and doing things together. She always seemed to have the answer to the ‘question’ and was just so much fun to be with.

Since Loretta was the ‘older’ one, she was expected to be more responsible and set an example, leaving me more lee-way to be a bit of a ‘dreamer’ at times. I have always valued Loretta’s advice and honest opinions. I am truly grateful to have her in our lives.

Although Loretta can’t be with us today, I think she would enjoy these little seafood crepes.

Crepes, whether they are rolled or stacked, sweet or savory make such a special meal. I remember some years ago, Brion & I had the pleasure of Loretta’s company on a trip to France. One of the first foods we enjoyed in France was crepes. They definitely made a lasting memory for the three of us.

Today, I wanted to do something a bit different. Sometimes, the name of a dish is simply inspired by its appearance. Such is the case of the crepes called ‘Beggar’s Purse’. The traditional dish consists of mini crepes topped with a good serving of high quality caviar and a dollop of sour cream. The edges of the crepe are pulled up into pleats and tied with a bow of chives. The resulting little bag looked like a 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, phyllo pastry, wonton wrappers or tortillas are used.

In North America, the beggar’s purse, reportedly derived from the French ‘aumoniere‘ pastry, has gilded origins. The dish became popular in the 1980’s. Aumoniere is a type of pastry but it also a medieval term for a small purse or pouch generally used in the 13th & 14th centuries. These purses were often embroidered.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LORETTA!

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Seafood Crepes w/ Gorgonzola Sauce
Instructions
Crepe Batter (yields 12-8" crepes)
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour & salt. Add eggs, melted (cool) butter & milk; whisk to incorporate then add the water. Continue whisking until smooth then fold in chopped chives. Batter should coat the back of a spoon like heavy cream, but if it is too thick, add a bit more water or milk. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours (or up to 2 days).
Scallop Filling
  1. In a saucepan, saute mushrooms until moisture evaporates. In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce & cornstarch; add prepared scallops, ginger, garlic, green onion, cilantro & water chestnuts, mix together. Stir mixture into sauteed mushrooms & cook only until scallops are translucent. Set aside to cool until ready to use.
Gorgonzola Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add garlic & rosemary (if using); cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour & stir to make a paste. Whisk in milk & 1/2 & 1/2 cream. Stir & cook for 3-4 minutes or until thick. Add crumbled Gorgonzola, stir until smooth & season with pepper if desired.
Blanche Whole Chives
  1. Blanche chives in a small saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds. Drain & plunge into an 'ice bath'. Pat dry on paper towels.
Cooking Crepes
  1. Heat the clarified butter (oil or cooking spray) in a crepe pan or skillet. Remove crepe batter from fridge & before you use any , give it a quick tap on the counter. Place 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan & swirl to even it out & form a circle. When the edges start to pull away & the crepe looks cooked in the middle, give the crepe a quick flip & cook for just 10-20 seconds on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.
Assembly
  1. Divide scallop filling between the 12 crepes, placing a portion of mixture in the center of each crepe. Gather the sides up to enclose the filling, secure with a toothpick & tie closed with a chive. Remove the toothpick.
  2. On serving plates, ladle some Gorgonzola sauce. Place 3 'beggar's purses' (per serving plate) on top the sauce. At this point, you may want to give each plate 30 seconds of heat in the microwave.
Recipe Notes
  • These little 'purses' can be served as appetizers or a main dish of 3-4 per serving.

Savory Wild Blueberry Pizza

Each year when summer arrives with its array of fresh fruits, so does the dessert ‘fruit’ pizza. How could you not love it — tender pastry shell filled with a custard and topped with colorful fruit! Fruit does have its rightful place atop pizza but it doesn’t have to be limited to dessert. When it comes to savory, we are all familiar with the ham & pineapple pizza. But you can’t just throw pineapple on pizza and call it done. The abundance of sweet or tart fruit has the power to give pizza a burst of flavor and add complexity to its profile. When balancing a fruit topping, cheese can make all the difference. Next, pair it with cured meats add heat and you have that glorious sweet and savory fusion.

Numerous times I have served roast pork tenderloin with a wild blueberry balsamic sauce. It never lets me down in taste or eye appeal. If that combo could taste so good, why wouldn’t a savory blueberry pizza work?!


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Savory Wild Blueberry Pizza


Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Pat & stretch dough onto a 14-inch pizza pan. With a fork, pierce the dough several times.

  2. Leaving a 1-inch border, sprinkle dough with half of the mozzarella, all the gorgonzola, chopped bacon & red onion. Bake until crust is golden brown, 12-14 minutes.

  3. Sprinkle the blueberries, remaining mozzarella cheese & sliced green pepper over pizza; bake until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven; top with basil (if using) & pepper.


Recipe Notes

Fig & Gorgonzola Chicken Breast with Raspberry Glaze

I have always enjoyed incorporating different varieties of cheese into my cooking. Like the saying goes ‘cheese makes it better’. One of the few kinds both Brion and I are not fond of though, is Blue Cheese. Never being able to get past that real strong smell and flavor, it came as a surprise to me when I tasted Gorgonzola and loved it.

During some vacation time we spent on the Monterey Peninsula in California, I noticed in a brochure, an advertisement for a place called Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria. It was in a small beach town called Capitola, about 64 km (40 miles) north of the Monterey Peninsula. We thought we should check it out as it would give us a nice day trip up the coast. The trip turned out to be more than what we expected. 

We arrived at Gayle’s right around noon. The place was bustling with business. It had a massive rotisserie and deli case packed with roasted chicken, slow barbecued ribs, hot entrees, salads and sandwiches. In the bakery cases were desserts that could give any French bakery some pretty stiff competition. I stood there trying to make a lunch choice and decided on a very ordinary looking spinach-Gorgonzola pasta. Wow! It was so good, I wouldn’t dream of ordering anything else in future visits. My love affair with Gorgonzola continues.

That afternoon we explored Capitola with its beautiful beaches and historic and colorful architecture, very reminiscent of a Mediterranean village.

I have seen numerous recipes using Figs & Gorgonzola so I thought I would try a little experimenting and see what I could come up with. Achieving just the right balance of sweet and savory can be tricky sometimes. Here is my adaption of Fig & Gorgonzola Chicken Breasts with Raspberry Glaze.

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Fig & Gorgonzola Chicken Breast with Raspberry Glaze
Chicken breasts go from ordinary to extraordinary!
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Raspberry Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, combine glaze ingredients & set aside.
Chicken
  1. Flatten chicken breasts to an even thickness. In a large, resealable plastic bag, place Fig Balsamic dressing with flattened chicken breasts. Gently massage bag to distribute dressing on all of the breasts. Marinate in the refrigerator for several hours.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cheese, figs, walnuts, bread crumbs, & spices. Cover & set in fridge until ready to stuff chicken breasts.
  3. At baking time, preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a sheet of foil large enough for chicken breasts. Lay breasts on a piece of plastic wrap; divide Gorgonzola filling mixture evenly between them. Gently press filling down slightly. Fold one half of each breast over forming a pocket; secure with a toothpick. With a spatula, place breasts on greased foil in baking pan tucking in any extra filling that might have fallen out. Use any leftover fig marinade to brush over breasts.
  4. Bake, uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 170 F. Place chicken breasts on serving platter. Discard toothpicks. Slightly warm Raspberry Glaze in microwave & drizzle over chicken.

Barbecue Salads x Five

No barbecue is complete without adding a few salads. More than just greens topped with a dressing, there are many versions of coleslaw and pasta salads as well as vegetable and gelatin salads. Without a doubt, you can make them as simple or fancy as you like or have the time for.

Every family seems to develop its own salad favorites. For our family, it was my mother’s ‘German’ version of potato salad. This was not the ‘Hot German Potato Salad’ which you most often see in recipe books. Her’s was a very basic potato salad, not a lot of ingredients, but the dressing was what made it special to us. Like so many German recipes it had that sweet-sour taste.

Over the years, either in the commercial food industry or at company barbecues, etc. I have used and shared her recipe many times. It has never failed to draw great reviews but strangely enough I think my husband is the only person I’ve known who didn’t care for potato salad in any fashion.

There are endless ideas for barbecue salads. In today’s blog I thought it would be nice to post a medley of five different kinds. I think you will find they are reasonably quick and easy to prepare as well as good accompaniments to most any meat being barbecued.

        Potato Salad   –   Chick Pea Pasta Salad   –   Candied Nut & Gorgonzola Salad                          Barley, Corn & Pepper Salad – Fresh Spinach & Vegetable Salad 

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Barbecue Salads x Five
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Potato Salad
Candied Nut & Gorgonzola Salad
Barley, Corn & Pepper Salad
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Potato Salad
Candied Nut & Gorgonzola Salad
Barley, Corn & Pepper Salad
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Potato Salad
  1. Cook potatoes in salted water. Cool, peel & cube. Combine potatoes, eggs, & onion. Blend together dressing ingredients & pour over potato mixture; mix well. Cover & refrigerate for several hours. Just before serving time, add sliced radishes & more salt if necessary. Mix well.
Chick Pea Pasta Salad
  1. Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. Drain & rinse under cold running water until cold. Combine pasta with next 8 ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat evenly. Cover & refrigerate for several hours. Arrange greens on serving plate & top with chick pea mixture or mix greens into salad, your choice.
Candied Nut & Gorgonzola Salad
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, melt sugar stirring constantly. Add nuts, stir until nuts are coated. Remove nuts from skillet; spreading them out on a sheet of aluminium foil to cool. In a large bowl, combine greens, dried fruit & Gorgonzola cheese; refrigerate. At serving time, combine salad with dressing, toss gently; add candied nuts & toss again.
Barley, Corn & Pepper Salad
  1. Cook barley to desired tenderness. Drain; rinse with cold water. In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients; toss well. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all dressing ingredients; shake well. Pour dressing over salad; toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Fresh Spinach & Vegetable Salad
  1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. At serving time, drizzle with dressing choice & top with toasted seeds.
Recipe Notes
  • If you like raw cauliflower, try adding a cup of it sliced along with some crisp, crumbled bacon bits to your potato salad. It adds a whole new dimension to an old favorite.