Sanbuseh – Savoury turnovers


Ok … Summer is here and the festive season is upon us and that means outdoor activities.  We will have gatherings to host and requests to ‘just bring a plate’.  Finger food is the go.

Instead of making meat pies, sausage rolls and mini quiches, how about making some Sanbuseh?  They are just as easy to make but taste and look just that little bit different.  I have already served them twice this season and they have been a hit both times.  Best of all, they are dead easy to make.  They use commercial puff pastry and the filling ingredients are all in together.  They can be served straight from the oven or at room temperature.  How easy is that?

The recipe is from my current favourite book (notwithstanding Rhubarb Khoresh) , Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij.

It is hard to say how many you will make. The recipe says to put two heaped teaspoons of filling in each pastry and that you will make 25.  I put the two heaped teaspoons in but made many more.  I can only suggest you buy a large packet of frozen puff pastry (10 sheets) and freeze what you don’t use.  I think we got 4 rounds to one sheet.

Because you are cutting the pastry into rounds, you will have lots of off-cuts.  I know puff pastry should not be re-rolled but I did because it was just too much to waste.   I made mini jam tarts out of it.  They looked a bit misshapen  –  some bits rose and other bits didn’t –  but they tasted fine and we ate the lot.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and when the only sweet thing in the house is a misshapen mini jam tart in the freezer, they sure look good.

Safavid pistachio and lamb filling


  • 1 tbs* oil, butter or ghee
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 450g lamb mince
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp sea salt (use less if using table salt or cooking salt)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup (85g)** ground pistachios
  • 1 cup (85g)** mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 cups (170g)** parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup (85g)** tarragon, chopped


  • Ready made frozen puff pastry

Egg wash

  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbs* milk

Safavid Dusting

  • 2 tbs* icing sugar
  • ½ tsp dried ground rose petals
  • 2 tbs* ground pistachios

*These are 15 mil tablespoons

** These are the metric equivalents given in the book.  I didn’t check them –  I just went with the cup measures.  I know a US cup is slightly smaller than our 250mil cup but the difference is small and, in a recipe like this, it is not worth worrying about.


  1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan and sweat onions until translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and meat, cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and sauté over medium heat for 5 – 10 minutes until the filling is completely dry.  Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  5. Heat your oven to 180°C.  Line your baking trays with baking paper.
  6. The instructions for shaping the pastries were to cut the pastry into 7.5cm circles using a scone cutter.  Put two heaped teaspoons of filling on one side of the circle. Fold each circle in half and seal.  Fold over the edges using your fingers and pinch to double seal.
    But I have one of these guys (a tortellini maker) which makes shaping the pastries so easy.  They only cost a couple of dollars – you’ve gotta get one.  You use the base to cut out a circle of pastry which fits perfectly into the mould.  Fill with two heaped teaspoons of filling, wet the edge with water and then close.  Voila!  Perfect little pastries.
  7. Transfer to your lined baking tray.  Paint them with the egg wash and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Just before serving, dust with the Safavid dusting (icing sugar, rose petals and ground pistachios).  Don’t skip this bit.  They look really cool and it just adds that special touch.

Chicken roasted with 40 cloves of garlic and Merguez sausages

I must tell you my chicken and garlic story.  It was 1982 and we were in Singapore.  We were on our way home after a year in Europe and we weren’t staying at the flashest hotel in town.

We decided to eat at the hotel restaurant and I ordered chicken and garlic.  Well, I certainly got my money’s worth in story currency.  You see, there were 51 cloves of garlic and about three pieces of chicken.  When it arrived, we laughed and laughed and laughed.  I ate the three pieces of chicken and counted the garlic.  We were not as familiar with garlic then as we are now. Continue reading

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb

Firstly, I must apologise for the photo.  It was the best that I could do. 😦  And it took me ages to finalise.  I was determined to write a post on this dish but when I looked at the photos I took, there was nothing that looked remotely enticing.

Friends often say they like my photos and I explain to them that I usually take lots and lots of exactly the same thing and the one that appears in the blog is the best of the lot. Also, I do spend an inordinate amount of time in Photoshop correcting the composition, lighting, colour, focus, etc.  But there is only so much you can do.  If the photo is bad, bad, bad, you only end up with a well lit, well focused, bad photo. So it was with the head photo. Continue reading

Too many leeks, anyone?

Leeks are a bug bear of mine.  The problem is, they are so easy to grow, I just can’t resist throwing a few seeds into the vegie patch each autumn.  Then, come spring, when they have all grown and are ready for picking on the same day, I have absolutely no idea what to do with them all.

I have tried staggering my planting like all the books advocate but, from my experience, the plants you put in late just catch up to the earlier plants so they still all ripen on the same day. Continue reading

The easiest pumpkin soup recipe ever and … my pressure canner to the rescue

Everyone has their favourite pumpkin soup recipe.  My favourite is one I have posted before – Pumpkin, cashew and coriander soup.  It is a beauty (check it out here) but it does take a bit of effort.  And there are plenty of times when effort does not figure.  For those times, I have been dreaming of a recipe my mum used to make.  I had it hand written in my recipe book but somehow I lost it.  I did ask my sisters but to no avail.   I remembered the ingredients – chicken stock, pumpkin, tomatoes and onion but I couldn’t remember the proportions.

Continue reading

Rabbit with mustard

Eek!!! Shocking photo – we obviously got carried away with the mash.

Ok … the name does not sound very enticing and the photo is a shocker but dinner tasted so good I have decided to press on regardless.

I have had rabbit with mustard once before but I am sure the last time I had it it would have been called lapin à la moutarde. Now that sounds better – much more sophisticated. Continue reading

Chicken a la Tunisienne

Chicken à la Tunisienne is a very fancy name for what is not much more than a respectable take on the infamous 70’s dish apricot chicken. Was apricot chicken as popular in other countries as it was in Australia?  It was big time popular here.  I know my mum made it and so did Maus’ mum (Though, her mum was a bit more posh than mine.  She sprinkled flaked almonds on her apricot chicken!!). Continue reading