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.

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

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

Lamb & Spinach Pastries


Oh!  My God!  It is hot here – it’s 42°C.  There is no way I am going outside.  Dinner tonight (like last night) will be something I can find in the fridge or freezer.

I have been saying that a lot lately.  Not much cooking has been happening in this household.  Luckily for this blog, I made these little pastries before Christmas.  Leading up to Christmas, we had guests several days in a row so I made these earlier in the week and froze them.  On the day of the dinner party, I whipped them out of the freezer and baked them.  They were perfect.  The leftovers were last night’s dinner, along with an ubiquitous cucumber salad. Continue reading

Bourke Street Bakery’s Lamb, Harissa and Almond Sausage Rolls


These sausage rolls are to die for.

When you search Bourke Street Bakery on the net, most of the articles mention these wonderful sausage rolls.  I have made them before but this is the first time I have made the puff pastry.  I was very chuffed with the result – you can actually see the layers.  And it was fun.  Not hard at all, although, I did have a bit of trouble keeping mine to the suggested size and I did have butter oozing out in all directions.  But it does not seem to have mattered – the pastry looks and tastes perfect.  It is obviously forgiving.  Now I know how easy it is, I am not going to buy puff pastry again.  The only issue is that you need to start early or, better still, the day before you want to use it.

Continue reading



This month, The Cook Book Guru is featuring Claudia Roden’s A New Book of Middle Eastern Food.  I have already posted two recipes from this cookbook, Moroccan Tagine with Prunes and Muhallabia (one of my all-time favourite desserts).   As I have previously mentioned, Claudia’s book is the classic English language cookbook on Middle Eastern cooking.  It was first published as A Book of Middle Eastern Food in 1968. Continue reading