A Shane Delia Night, part 2 … Duck & Apricot Sambusek

Geez, I was lucky to get this photo.  I put a halt to all eating to get it, and I was just in time.  We started with 24. 

Shane Delia, in the preamble to this recipe, says it is all about the pastry and I think he is right.  It is very light and flaky.

We served the sambusek with pomegranate jelly but I ate them alone to really taste them and … he is right, it was all about the pastry.  The pastry is different from most in that it is made with oil and not butter.  It needs to be well kneaded and it needs to rest between each rolling because it tends to shrink.  Therefore, give yourself enough time to let it rest.  The most important instruction is: roll it as thinly as possible, which takes a bit but it is worth it.  I will definitely make it again.

The filling is another story.  Don’t get me wrong, it was very tasty but I don’t think the duck was worth the money and the effort.  If I make the filling again, I think I would use lamb rather than duck.  I went to the local butcher and told him I needed 250g of duck mince and suggested a couple of breasts.  He told me that two duck breasts would set me back a bit and suggested 2 legs instead (which set me back quite a bit 🙂 ) He weighed them and they were 430+grams.  He indicated I would get 250+grams of meat out of them.  No!

I scraped and scaped at those legs and ended up with 200g of duck meat.  I then got Maus to see if she could scrape anymore off the bones.  In the end, I resorted to adding a bit of fat and some chicken to make up the 250g.  We contemplated going back into town but neither of us thought it was worth it.  We then had to mince the duck.  In the end, I could not even tell it was duck – I think 250g of lamb next time.  Interestingly, the book is called Maha Middle Eastern Home Cooking.  I can’t imagine many mums making these for a mid week snack 🙂  Although, if they did, their kids would be rapt.



  • 1½ tbs* olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 250g minced duck
  • 100g dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 30g pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 tbs* pomegranate molasses
  • 2-3 tsp ras el hanout
  • flaked sea salt – I had some but ordinary salt would do just fine
  • vegetable oil for deep frying**

*These are 20 mil  tablespoons

**Use an oil that has a high smoke point  – canola, sunflower and rice bran oils are all good choices.  Because we only keep olive oil and grapeseed oil in the house, Maus raided my soap-making cache and found a bottle of canola oil to use.


  • 400g type ’00’ flour
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt (which is the equivalent of ⅓ – ½ tsp of fine table salt)
  • 150mls of cold water***
  • 60 mls olive oil***

***It is notoriously difficult to accurately predict the amount of fluid you will need when making pastry and bread.  It all depends on your flour’s ability to absorb liquid.  I added a bit more oil and water.  Keep adding oil and water and keep kneading until you have a nice smooth dough.  Just make sure you only add a little at a time.



  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan over low heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook for 15 minutes or until golden brown – do not let them burn.
  3. Add the minced duck and cook until all the juices have evaporated and the meat is brown.
  4. Add the apricots and pinenuts and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the pomegranate molasses and ras el hanout and season to taste with salt.
  6. Set aside to cool.


  1. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Add the water and olive oil and mix together until a dough begins to form.  If it does not form, add a bit more water and olive oil.
  3. Turn out onto your bench and need until the dough is soft and smooth (5-7 minutes) – add a bit more oil and water, if necessary .
  4. Wrap the pastry in plastic film and place in the fridge for, at least, 1 hour.
  5. When ready to assemble, cut the dough in half and re-wrap one half.
  6. Roll out the other half as thinly as possible then cut into rounds using an 8 cm (I used a 10 cm) cutter.  Mine kept shrinking so I had to re-roll them, let them rest and then roll them again.


  1. Place 1½ teaspoons (as my rounds were a bit bigger, I used 2 teaspoons) of filling on one half of each round.
  2. Moisten the edges and fold over to make a small pasty – crimp.
  3. Repeat until all the filling is used.  I had extra pastry that I was “gunna” use for something else but I didn’t get around to it.
  4. Heat your oil to 180°C.
  5. Add the sambusek in batches and cook for 3 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Serve immediately.

I have Part 3 – Dessert – to go but we are off on a short holiday so it will be two or more weeks before Part 3 appears.

Lamb meatballs with warm yoghurt and swiss chard and solutions to some recent software problems

Hello, everyone!

This is a post which has been sitting in Drafts for ages.  I just hope I can remember how we made the dish.

I am sorry it has been so long since I have written a post.  One reason has been lethargy and the other is that I have had computer problems or, more to the point, software problems.  I will tell you about them in case you have the same, or similar, issues.  It will save you hours in forums. Continue reading

Freekeh salad with marinated chicken & pomegranate dressing

Here is another recipe from my current favourite book, Palestine on a Plate, by Joudie Kalla.  I noticed the recipe a while ago and parked it.  Then, the other day, when I was thinking, “What’s for dinner?”, it sprang forth.

It is very simple but it does take about 30 minutes to cook the freekeh so allow yourself sufficient time.

I am a real fan of freekeh but we don’t eat it often enough.  As a consequence, there was a packet in the pantry getting precariously close to its use-by date.  Coincidently, we also had abundant pomegranates, mint, parsley and chives so the recipe was a perfect choice.  There was not much on the shopping list.

The recipe as published (and as set out below) is supposed to feed four.  I guess it just depends on how much chicken you like.  We usually eat one breast between two of us.  I used one large breast and made about a third of the marinade, ie, 1 teaspoon of dried mint, 1 teaspoon of za’atar, etc.  I roughly halved the salad ingredients.  What constitutes “a large bunch of parsley”, “a bunch of chives” and “a bunch of rocket” is anyone’s guess.  As it turned out, the quantities I chose were perfect for us.  The top photo, which was half of what I made, was just right for one.  Work out how much chicken and how much salad you think you will need and adjust the recipe accordingly.

If you like to eat grains (we all should) and haven’t tried freekeh, give it a go.  It is very nice.  I find it  similar to brown rice.  For those who don’t know, freekeh is roasted green wheat grain.


  • 300g freekeh
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut in half lengthways


  • 1 tbs* dried mint
  • 1 tbs* za’atar
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 4 tbs* pomegranate molasses
  •  a drizzle of olive oil
  • salt & black pepper


  • a large bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 5 spring onions, chopped
  • a bunch of fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded
  • a bunch of rocket
  • 2 red chillies, chopped


  • 100ml apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbs* pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tbs* caster sugar
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 70ml olive oil
  • 1 tbs* dried mint
  • 1 tbs* za’atar
  • 1 tsp salt

*These are 15 mil tablespoons.


  1. Boil the freekeh in a saucepan of salted water for about 30 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat, drain and then leave the freekeh to cool down slightly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C with fan .
  3. Put the chicken in a bowl and add the dried mint, za’atar, chilli flakes, pomegranate molasses and a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.  Mix to ensure it is all coated.
  4. Tip the chicken out onto a baking tray, pouring over any excess juices from the bowl as you do.  Bake for about 20–25 minutes until cooked through.  Slice the chicken into strips.
  5. Add the parsley, spring onions and chives, red chilli and pomegranate seeds to the freekeh and mix together.
  6. Mix the dressing ingredients together, adjust the seasoning to your liking and toss  over the salad.
  7. Sit the salad on a bed of rocket and then top with the sliced chicken and its juices.

Corn fritters (Bhutteyan Da Kebab)

Did I mention that we have a lot of corn at the moment?  The first day back from our holidays, I picked 14 cobs and, two days later, eight more. We, usually, have a glut this time of the year and go into corn fritter mode.  I have previously posted Bill Grangers’ sweetcorn fritters with roasted tomatoes and bacon and corn & ricotta cakes with roasted tomatoes and pesto from Delicious magazine.  If you are inundated with corn or love corn fritters, I recommend both recipes but, for us, it was time to try something new. Continue reading

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? Continue reading

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