Beggar’s CAN Be Choosers


Or choice morsels to treat yourself and guests too.

Minted Pea and Mushroom Beggars Purse

Minted Pea and Mushroom Beggar's Purse

I mean beggar’s purses, of course, like the kind I made for this year’s Fairy Fest. They most likely get their name from the Medieval-style cloth purses made from a circle of fabric and a simple drawstring. Whether made from pastry, as below, or crêpes or pasta, the fillings can be sweet or savory–really, anything goes.

Personally, I love the pastry ones best and prefer to use square pieces as a base as as not to have any waste. Puff pastry doesn’t do too well re-rolled (though if you’re going to try it, stack the scraps together and then roll out to the desired thickness–this keeps the layers intact the way just smooshing the bits together will not). Plus, when the sides are gathered up, the pointed corners make a delightful petal shape on top of the purse that is quite decorative.

Minted Pea and Mushroom Beggar’s Purses

Makes 36

8 oz Frozen Peas
1 stick (4 oz) Unsalted Butter, diced
8 oz Mushrooms, diced
2 Tbsp chopped Mint
1 Tbsp dried Thyme
1 Tbsp dried Parsley
1 tsp Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 packages Puff Pastry Dough (4 sheets)
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water, for egg wash
Fresh Chives, optional, for ties

To Make the Filling:

Cook peas according to package directions; drain off any remaining water.

Stir together the cooked peas with butter, mushrooms and seasonings, allowing the heat from the peas to melt the bits of butter. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 375° F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide each sheet of puff pastry dough into 9 equal pieces, about 3 inches square. On a lightly floured surface, roll each square out, gently, to about 4″ squares.

To Make the Purses:

To each square of puff pastry add 1 heaping tablespoon of filling to the center.

Brush a circle of water or egg wash around the filling (this will help the pastry stick together up top).

Draw together the centers of each side and then the corners, leaving the ends of the corners free to lay to the side like tissue paper out of a gift bag.

Squeeze together the top of the newly-formed pouch, just under the corner-points and finish with a tie of chive around the neck of the pouch. (See illustration below)

How to Form Beggar's Purses from Puff Pastry Squares

How to Form Beggar's Purses from Puff Pastry Squares

Brush the tops of the purses with egg wash and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.

Either serve warm or let cool and refrigerate until needed. They keep very well and will reheat in about 30 minutes in a 350°-oven. They do okay in a microwave, too, but it’s not my first choice for reheating.

(adapted from the recipes “Sweet Peas with Mint” and “Mushrooms in Cream” from Celtic Folklore Cooking)

This filling would also be excellent pureed smooth and used as a filling for ravioli. They smell divine when baking and taste even better!