Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dinner Almost Impossible: Sweet Heart Purse

This is my February entry for Royal Food Joust by the Leftover Queen: Sweet Heart Purses. Greek styled lean ground beef heart, kohlrabi ribbons, organic fresh plum cubes, and sweet onion jam wrapped in egg-less phyllo pastry. My guests first described the purse as "mysterious and alluring." As they bit into it, it offered layers of textures and flavours, something surprising and different in each bite.

It has been a busy month. Unlike last month, I didn't spent a month experimenting and testing. I made this for the first time yesterday and fed it to a party of 10 people. I was surprised when I bit into this purse for the first time. It was delicious and everything I had wanted it to taste like and more. This dish was a part of the 10 course meal and some dishes were different uses of kohlrabi, but I will get into that later.

Beef: Spencer at Market Meat has been super resourceful. He acquired the fresh beef heart and later trimmed and grounded it for me. Through him, I learned that ground meat twice make it more firm. Beef heart has great structure even after being grounded. I made meat ball out of it without using eggs, and it held its form in the kohlrabi, plum, cajun tomato sauce (but I decided to not use this recipe for the contest).

Kohlrabi: Thanks to Jean, I learned the chinese word for this plant. This is actually a plant that I grew up eating as pickle for breakfast, ground cake for lunch, and as soup broth for dinner. Knowing what it is, it helped me develop the dish that best expressed the texture and flavour, without just serving it raw or making the dish excessively soggy: ribbons. It is crunchy but not chewy and its large surface area allows maximum flavour

Plum: I had difficulty deciding between fresh plum and dried umeboshi plum, but in the end, I decided that fresh plum would compliment the fresh kohlrabi better. Cubed, the fruit offers good texture to the purse.

(Makes a dozen sweet heart purses).

The filling:
½ Beef Heart (fat trimmed and grounded twice)
1 shallot (finely chopped)
½ Cayenne pepper
1 tbsp white pepper
½ Kohlrabi (thinly sliced it into ribbons)
½ Ripe plum (finely chopped into small cubes)
3 Large red onions (thinly sliced)
¾ cup canola or grape seed oil
½ cup fresh thyme (finely chopped)
½ Bulbs of garlic (minced)
⅓ cup Brown sugar or agave syrup
¾ cup Red Wine
¾ cup Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard

The purse:
16 sheets (about half of box) egg free frozen phyllo dough, thawed for 2 hours at room temperature
½ cup butter or Earth Balance melted
⅓ cup fresh thyme (finely chopped)
24 chives

salt and pepper

1. In a mixing bowl, mix beef heart with all the garlic, ¼ cup of thyme, white pepper, cayenne pepper, 1 tsp of salt.
2. Heat ¼ cup of oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the heart until it's fully cooked and on it in a strainer over a bowl or in the kitchen sink. Set aside to cool.
3. Heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in a clean large flat-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add all the onions and cook for 20-25 minutes or until golden grown, stirring occasionally.
4. Add agave syrup or sugar and let it cook for a minute.
5. Add the vinegar, wine, 2 teaspoon of salt, and continue to cook for 20-25 minute at lower heat, until only ¼ the liquid remains and are the consistency of jam.
6. Remove from heat and add the mustard, thyme, and pepper to taste.
7. Mix it with the beef.

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Unroll the phyllo dough.
2. Lay one sheet flat on the work surface. Using a pastry brush, brush the entire surface of the sheet with melted Earth Balance or butter. Sprinkle a pinch of pepper and thyme.
3. Lay another sheet on top and repeat step 2 until you have 4 layers of dough. Cut the phyllo into 4½ inches squares.
4. Place a few kohlrabi ribbons in the center of the sheet and then about 1 tbsp of the jam mixture, and a few cubes of fresh plum (make sure plums are not in a clump).
5. Draw up the edges of the phyllo to create a rough purse. Gently twist the packet just about the pocket containing the jam to create fills at the top.
6. Tie each purse with kitchen strings and brush the entire purse lightly with the remaining earth balance or butter. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until well browned.
7. Carefully remove the string and tie chive around each.

An old vine red Zinfandel, tempranillo, or old world merlot would pair well with this dish.

Big thanks to Peter at for all the amazing photos.


  1. Oh, wow! I vote for your dish. I am definitely going to make this one. It's wonderful! Thanks for sharing and entering the contest.

  2. I am glad you like it! The heart has a rather gamey flavour. You might want to taste it before mixing it with the sweet onion jam, incase you prefer less beef heart to the mixture . =)

  3. Came over to you from the Foodie Blogroll. Your entry is great. A beautiful use of 3 unusual ingredients (especially together). I think I spy the winner! :)

  4. Thanks for comments! Thanks for the support! Too bad the dinner contest is cancelled, and I can't wait for it to start up again.