Shashlik (Shish Kabob)

Shashlik is more or less what we call a Shish Kabob here in the US. Meat cooked over a fire on a skewer. This is the Russian equivalent of the All American grilled hamburger or hotdog. This is what the Russians serve at summer parties. There are many variations on the recipe, and it can be just meat, or a combination of meat and vegetables on the skewers, your imagination can be your guide.

Beef and lamb are the traditional meats, but pork can be used too. We made our skewers with a combination of beef, mushrooms, green and red peppers, red onions and cherry tomatoes.

18-Shashlik IMG_9812



Wild Turkey was very common in New England in those days, so while it is probably Duck or Goose that was the featured bird referenced in Edward Winslow’s account, it is hard to believe a three day feast for 150 people wouldn’t have included a turkey or two.

My brother John, the resident Turkey expert in my family handled the bird, so I will have to rely on him for an account of how to do it.

Roast Goose with Chesnuts, Prunes and Armagnac

This recipe comes from Bon Appétit, December 1991

While it is fitting that the Wild Turkey, native to North America has become the symbol of Thanksgiving, it is most likely that the Pilgrims feasted on Goose or Duck on the day. In the only references to the meal in question, Edward Winslow mentions, “They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week”. This reference to fowl could include turkey, but most historians tend think he means waterfowl. Goose had a long tradition in Europe of signifying the changing of the seasons, as they are a migratory bird. Sacrificing a goose in thanksgiving for a good harvest has roots in the Celtic Samhain, the Germanic Yule, or the celebration of the winter solstice. While the Pilgrims would certainly eschew such pagan rituals, the holiday goose had become such a part of English/Christian culture they would probably have participated in the rites without a second thought.

1 16-ounce package pitted prunes
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 3/4 cups dry red wine
1 1/4 cups prune juice

1 12- to 13-pound goose
1 orange, quartered (Not likely they had any citrus)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground pepper
1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
4 bay leaves

6 tablespoons Armagnac, Cognac or other brandy
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature (supplies would have been low)
1 tablespoon all purpose flour (probably didn’t have this)
1 7 2/5-ounce jar steamed or roasted chestnuts
Chopped fresh parsley

Combine prunes, stock, 1 1/2 cups wine and 1 cup prune juice in heavy medium saucepan. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove mixture from heat. Transfer 12 prunes to small bowl, using slotted spoon.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Pat goose dry. Pull out fat from cavity. Rub inside and out with cut side of orange. Combine salt and pepper and rub inside and outside goose. Place orange, onion, bay leaves and 12 drained prunes in goose cavity. Tie legs together. Place goose on rack in roasting pan. Pierce all over with small metal skewer or toothpick.
Roast goose 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F and roast 30 minutes longer. Remove fat from roasting pan. Combine remaining 1/4 cup wine and 1/4 cup prune juice and brush some over goose. Continue roasting goose until juices run clear when pierced in thickest part of thigh, basting goose with wine mixture and removing fat from pan occasionally, about 2 hours.
Transfer goose to platter and tent with foil. Let stand 20 minutes.
Strain prune poaching liquid, reserving prunes. Degrease roasting juices. Add 1/2 cup poaching liquid to roasting pan and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer to heavy medium saucepan. Add Armagnac, remaining poaching liquid and degreased roasting juices. Boil until flavors are intense, about 15 minutes. Knead butter and flour together. Whisk into sauce in small bits and simmer until thick, about 8 minutes. Add poached prunes and chestnuts and heat through. Sprinkle with parsley.
Carve goose into thin slices. Spoon sauce, chestnuts and prunes over.

Striped Sandwiches (Randiga Sandwiches)

If like me, you have studied the behavior of Swedish people by reading all three of the Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson,  you can’t help but be struck with the outrageous amount of sandwich eating that seems to go on in that country. Lisbeth Salander (The girl with the dragon tattoo) is described as being incredibly skinny, yet here she is eating “three big open rye-bread sandwiches.” Everyone is always waking up in the middle of the night and making a couple of sandwiches and some coffee to think over a problem. This is unequivocal prooof that sandwiches are the bread and butter of Scandinavian cuisine. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist)

It is important to note that these are not gigantic Dagwood-type hoagies. A sandwich in Nordic culture is most often a small snack, usually one piece of bread with butter and another topping like pickled herring or cheese and cucumbers. We might call this a canapé if we were being fancy. A typical Swedish party would have a smörgåsbord consisting of many different types of open sandwiches.

For the purpose of a picnic, a bunch of open sandwiches would be difficult to manage and messy, so a fun alternative is the Striped Sandwich, which behaves like a closed sandwich with a top and bottom until it is sliced, then you have a beautiful, thin, open sandwich.

4 thin slices of white bread (cut the long way across the loaf)
3 thin slices whole wheat or whatever dark bread you prefer (cut the long way across the loaf)
It’s important to get really wonderful bread for this sandwich. See if there is a good Scandinavian Bakery in your area. It’s worth the special trip.

Parsley Butter (Persiljesmör)
4 oz butter
3-4 Tablespoons chopped parsley
white pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Mix the butter with the parsley. Cream until smooth. Flavor with a little white pepper and lemon juice

Meat Butter (Köttsmör) How can you not love the term “meat butter”?
4 oz butter
3-4 oz salted or smoked meat (I used smoked ham) chopped finely
1-2 Tablespoons grated horse-radish
cream (optional)
Mix the butter with the meat. Cream until smooth. Add horse-radish and cream if desired.

Cheese Cream (Ostkräm)
2 oz blue cheese (or grated cheese of your choice)
2 oz soft cream cheese
3 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
10 radishes, finely chopped
celery salt

Mash the blue cheese very thoroughly or sieve it with the cream cheese. Beat the mixture until smooth. Whip the cream and fold it into the cheese. Flavor with radishes and celery salt.

Alternate: Flavor with tomato purée, French mustard and a little lemon juice instead of radishes.

Spread the fillings evenly (and thickly) on the bread and pile the slices on top of each other, alternating the light and dark slices. Do not spread any filling on the outside of the top slices.

Press the sandwiches together and wrap in aluminum foil. Place the sandwich in a light press, such as between two cutting boards and set aside in a cold place, like the refrigerator, for at least two hours.

Trim the edges of the sandwiches and cut it into 20-25 thin slices. Each slice may be cut into two triangular shapes. I think it is best to bring a bread knife (packed safely) and slice your sandwiches on site.


The Elizabethan era dish, Salmagundi was apparently a very popular pirate ship menu item. One of the reasons must have been it’s infinite versatility. There seem to be as many recipes for it as there were pirate chefs. The name itself evolved from salmigondis which is French for hodgepodge or a whole bunch of different stuff that doesn’t seem to go together. So a ship’s cook could make this out of whatever they had available at the time, which would have varied widely depending on where and how recently they had raided a port. (In fact, according to Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas 1500-1750 by Kris E. Lane, Pirates “raided coastal settlements for fresh victuals at least as often as for booty.”) The recipes are so varied that it’s not even certain what category of dish it is. It can be a stew, a salad and even a paté when known by it’s Jamaican name, Solomon Gundy, which is made from pickled fish and served with crackers. For our purposes it is salad.

In a possibly unrelated coincidence or another strange evolution, Solomon Grundy is also a popular English Nursery Rhyme. It was first published in 1842, which means it was probably widely circulated orally before that, but the salad most likely predated it.

Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
This is the end
Of Solomon Grundy

What, if anything this has to do with a salad of cooked meats, pickled fish, vegetables, fruits and flowers I have no idea. But the Justice League Zombie-Super-Villian Solomon Grundy was based on this nursery rhyme. Naming himself Solomon Grundy because he was “Born on a Monday”, the only thing he remembers about his pre-zombie life. Both of these guys could probably use a good hearty serving of salamagundi.

Anyway, I started with a recipe for Salmagundi from, that was adapted from the “The Good Huswives Treasure” by Robert May. I further adapted to my tastes and what I had available, and I suggest you do the same. (This recipe measures everything in grams, as is the European way. A kitchen scale is helpful for this, but precision is not important in this instance. I translated the measurements to mean “some of this” “some more of that” “A little of this” and so on…

1 rotisserie chicken.
4 Tablespoons fresh tarragon, finely chopped
100g French green beans blanched and refreshed in cold water
1 small red onion, finely chopped
8 radishes, sliced
60g plump raisins
1 Tablespoon capers (the recipe calls for finely chopped, I added them whole)
8 new potatoes, boiled, cooled and sliced
150g black seedless grapes, halved (or red currants)
6 eggs, soft boiled
Bed of chopped lettuce (or beet leaves)
4 Tablespoons mixed chervil, parsley and chives, finely chopped

Ingredients in the original recipe that I did not use. (because i couldn’t find, don’t like, or forgot to buy)
150g marsh samphire, blanched
60g broom buds
8 figs quartered
6 button mushrooms
60 g flaked almonds, toasted
60g black olives, sliced
1 orange peeled and thinly sliced
Ingredients not in the recipe that I added:
Tin of anchovies
Tin of sardines

Ingredients for the Dressing:
200ml extra virgin olive oil
60ml red wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 orange
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Boil your eggs for about 6 minutes, or until soft-boiled then drain and
place under cold running water until chilled. Then peel.

Par-boil the samphire and French beans

Remove the flesh from the chicken and cut into strips. Add to a bowl and
toss with the tarragon before seasoning with salt and black pepper.

Toss together the lettuce and broom flowers. Use these to line the base
of a large salad bowl. Arrange the chicken on top then layer the
remaining ingredients. Finish with the orange slices, and whole soft boiled eggs then scatter the
chopped herbs over the top.

Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the
salad immediately before serving.

O’Hanlon’s Stew

This is a 16th Century Irish style stew recipe. It’s pretty simple, straightforward and cooks extremely quickly for a stew. In addition to being very hearty and tasty! This stew would really stick to your ribs on a stormy night at sea and give you the strength you need to raid a ship.

Ingredients: 4 portions. Use a deep stewpan
300 g of pork stew meat cut into cubes
300 g of beef stew meat cut into cubes
1 bottle of fine porter
2 – 3 slices of dark bread cut into dices
3 – 4 potatoes*
3 dl of cream
50 g of butter

Fry pork, beef and half a glass of porter. After about 5 minutes add the sliced potatoes. When the potatoes starts to turn golden, add cream, the rest of the porter and the dark bread and maybe a little salt and pepper. Let it cook for about 10 – 15 minutes.

*This recipe mentioned that the addition of potatoes is not very historically accurate, but makes the stew taste better. I agree on the taste front, as I am a huge fan of the tuber. In regards to historical accuracy, potatoes are native to South America and were first encountered by Spanish Conquistadors in Peru around 1532 so it is unlikely that a 16th Century stew from Ireland would feature the potato as an ingredient. Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have been the first to bring the potato to Ireland and planted it at his estate near Cork in 1589, an alternate theory is that when the Spanish Armada crashed on the West Coast of Ireland in 1588, some potatoes washed a shore and a national sensation was born. Whichever is correct, it is reasonable to believe it was not until the 17th Century that they would have been regularly utilized in Irish Cuisine. However by the “Golden Age of Piracy” (1650-1730) they would be a standard supply item on sailing ships since they were so perfectly suited to the circumstances of sailors, as those who ate them did not suffer from the dreaded scurvy, they keep very well for long periods and are extremely filling.

Szalonna (Bacon Sandwich)

Bacon seems like a good name for the Hungarian szalonna. However, szalonna is much more than the Hungarian version of Bacon, it is a national treasure, and some say that in actuality, Bacon is the English version Szalonna. Bacon most likely got its name from a type of Hungarian szalonna produced in the Bakony region, which became a distinguished commodity throughout the world.

Szalonna or Hungarian Bacon can be purchased at most Hungarian or Polish Delis or Butcher shops, and can probably be special ordered from any fine butcher. But no worries if you can find it, any thickly cut slap bacon will do.

Build an open flame and load up a skewer with slices of bacon.

Cook the bacon over the flame, periodically pulling it off and dripping the fat over slices of rye bread.
Then pile on sliced radishes, onions and cabbage

In the old days in Hungary, this would be a decadent peasant meal, the sandwich of cabbage, radishes and onions with bacon fat for flavor. The serfs would take the drippings from the land owners bacon to flavor their meals. In these more glutinous times, go ahead and add an actual slice of bacon or two.