La What Now?

Since the 1960s, baseball teams and players have been publishing cookbooks. I collect them and try out some of the recipes that major leaguers have shared with their fans over the years. Photos, recipes and comments included.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Breakfast Cake - Vance Law (Infielder)

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbls. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup oil
1 1/3 cups milk
2 eggs
Sift dry ingredients.  Beat eggs; add oil and milk.  Combine with flour mixture.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13" pan.  Sprinkle topping on top.  Bake 25 minutes at 400 F.
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbls. cinnamon
Combine all until crumbly.
Vance Law was a White Sox player for only three seasons (1982-84), but he is well-remembered from the 1983 AL West Division winning club.  The eyeglasses he wore at the time, instantly recognizable, have taken on an iconic status.
For three years, Law was the starting third baseman for the Sox, and built a reputation for reliability and solid play.  No flash, just fundamentals.
Sort of like this recipe of his from the 1983 White Sox Cookbook.  I don't know if "breakfast cake" is a lost culinary tradition, but we brought it back here courtesy of Mr. Law.
This is probably the most basic recipe for cake you can find.  The cinnamon flavoured topping seems almost exotic by comparison.  Anyway, follow the steps and you'll be rewarded with a nice white cake.  You can have it for breakfast with fruit or jam or whatever creamy spread you like.  Makes a nice snack any time during the day or night.
I say it's time to bring back the timeless art of breakfast cake!
FINAL SCORE - solid, reliable, won't let you down... just like Vance Law at third.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Banana Cream Pie and Graham Cracker Crust - Harold Baines (Outfielder)

Finely roll 1 individual pack of graham crackers (about 1 2/3 cups).  Pour crumbs into bowl.  Add 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup softened butter.  Blend well with fingers.  Pour crumbs into 9" pie plate.  Set an 8" pie plate on top to press.  Take off.  Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.  Cool rack.  Fill with favorite filling.  A little reminder - you could also buy the already made dough crusts to bake your banana cream mixture in.  They're pretty good but if you like to make your own crust, I'll gladly give you my favorite recipe.
Also, vanilla pudding mix (either instant or other) can be a makeshift cream filling for the banana cream.  Just a thought.
Mix in saucepan:
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tbls. cornstarch
1 tbls. flour
Gradually stir in 3 cups milk.  Cook over moderate heat stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Slowly stir half the mixture into 3 egg yolks (slightly beaten).  Then blend into hot mixture in saucepan.  Boil 1 minute more, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.
Blend in:
1 tbls. butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Cool completely.  (To keep from hardening, place wax paper directly on top.)  Pour in 2 bananas (cut up).  Can also layer bananas with pudding.  Chill thoroughly.  Sprinkle with crushed graham cracker mixture, coconut or fresh strawberries.
Today we have this dalashous dessert recipe from Harold Baines, who is being fêted with his very own 1983 throwback bobblehead this coming Saturday, April 27 at US Cellular Field.
Baines is a White Sox legend, not the least for his longevity with the organization.  He was drafted in 1977 (after being spotted while playing little league ball by Bill Veeck some years before) and made his White Sox debut in 1980.  As part of the 1983 AL West Division winning team, Baines hit .280 with 20 HRs and 99 RBIs.
The sweet swinging right fielder would play all or part of 14 seasons over three stints with the White Sox.  His number 3 was famously retired by the Sox while Baines was still an active player, and he remains with the club presently as assistant hitting coach.
I was really looking forward to making this recipe, and it turned out pretty good.  The only hitch was that after all the boiling and pouring, the pie did not want to set - it remained a liquidy/goopy thing, rather than firming up.
Checking online, I learned that this happens to many a frustrated home cook.  The best advice seemed to be: if your banana cream pie won't set in the fridge, throw it in the freezer.  Presto!  Frozen banana cream pie!
So that's what you see in the photo above.  Naturally, the pie had to be taken out of the freezer and thawed for a bit before it could be enjoyed, but it was definitely enjoyable.  I think some extra cornstarch might help it set next time, but that's just my own theory.  Harold would whisper a few instructive words in my ear, were he here. 
FINAL SCORE - Dalashous!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Caesar Salad - Tony Bernazard (Infielder)


1 clove garlic, halved
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 heads romaine, washed and chilled
coddled egg (see below)
1 lemon
garlic croutons
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 can (2 oz.) anchovy fillets, drained and rolled or cut up

Just before serving, rub large salad bowl with cut clove of garlic.  Add oil, salt, mustard, pepper and Worcestershire sauce; mix thoroughly.  Into bowl, tear romaine into bite-size pieces (about 12 cups); toss until leaves glisten.

Break egg onto romaine.  Squeeze on juice from lemon; toss until leaves are well coated.  Sprinkle croutons, cheese and anchovies over salad and toss.  8 servings.

Coddled egg: place cold egg in warm water.  Heat to boiling enough water to completely cover egg.  With a spoon, immerse egg in boiling water.  Remove pan from heat.  Cover and let stand 30 seconds.  Immediately immerse egg in cold water.

You've got to feel bad for Tony Bernazard. 

Acquired from the Montreal Expos after the 1980 season, Bernazard missed out on being part of the only Expos team to make the postseason (1981). 

He was the regular starter at 2B for the White Sox for two-and-a-half years.  Then, on June 15, 1983, Bernazard was traded to the cellar-dwelling, 102-game losing Seattle Mariners for Julio Cruz, in a straight-up trade of second basemen.  Cruz was considered a speedier upgrade (ouch).  Bernazard literally went from first to worst, while Cruz became a southside hero as part of the AL West Division winners.

(Cruz's mid-season acquisition is why he isn't included in this cookbook, despite being a famous member of the 1983 White Sox.)

According to his Wikipedia entry, Bernazard was famous for his habit of eating nothing but chicken during hitting streaks.  However, he offered up this recipe for a very rich Caesar Salad here.

Did I say rich?  Holy richness.  The recipe calls for pretty much every ingredient you could have in a Caesar Salad.  The spices, the sauces, the cheese, the anchovies, not to mention the egg that you crack on top.  Throw it all together and you end up with a crazy rich salad.

I'm not used to this kind of thing.  There was so much going on here that my mouth was burning from it all.  Sorry to say it, but this Caesar was too much. 

FINAL SCORE - This is the first recipe to which I have to give a thumbs down.  Sorry Tony, bad luck again.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Clam Chowder Soup, New England Style - Roland Hemond (General Manager)


1 onion (minced)
saute with 1/2 stick of butter
3 cans Campbell's potato soup
2 cans Campbell's New England Clam Chowder Soup
1 quart half and half cream
3 cans minced clams
1/4 cup sherry
1 can sliced mushrooms (optional)

Combine ingredients in large pot.  Bake in oven at 225 for 4 hours (uncovered).  Stir occasionally if present (not necessary).  Salt and pepper to taste.
The 1983 season was the culmination of years of teambuilding by longtime White Sox General Manager Roland Hemond.  He had joined the team's front office in 1970 and the '83 division winning team would earn Hemond an Executive of the Year award, the second in his career.  (He would win a third with Baltimore in 1989.)
Although he left the team after 1985, Hemond returned as Executive Advisor to then-GM Ken Williams from 2001-07, and was there for the 2005 World Series championship year.
Baseball general managers must be well-practiced in the art of compromise, dealmaking, horsetrading, hustling, sandbagging, turd polishing, and general bullshitting.  They are also practiced in the art of squeezing maximum value from minimum resources.
Take this recipe for example.  You'd think a genuine Rhode Islander like Hemond would be able to offer up a genuine, century-old family recipe for authentic clam chowder from scratch.  Don't kid yourself.  A GM doesn't have time to peel potatoes and shuck clams, not with a pack of sports writers baying at his door.
Thus, this recipe, whose ingredients are easy to assemble, but come together well to make a thick and genuine tasting chowder.
To simplify things even more, it is possible to reduce the amounts and prepare this dish on your stovetop in less than an hour, which is how I prepared it, and I don't think anything was lost.  The mushrooms are a great idea - I'd never had them in a chowder before.
FINAL SCORE - the gentleman from New England won't steer you wrong with this dish.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Apple Brownies, Easy! - Carlton Fisk (Catcher)

1 stick of margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 small apples (chopped)
1 cup of flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
Cream margarine and sugar.  Beat egg.  Mix in sugar mixture.  Add nuts and apples.  Mix flour and spices.  Beat into egg mixture.  Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes in greased 8" square pan.  Cut when cool. 

Here he is - the Commander - with the first of his three baked goods recipes in the 1983 Chicago White Sox cookbook.   
Carlton Fisk signed with the White Sox in 1981, the first big splash signing by new owners Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn.  Fisk followed the big splash with a big blast - homering against the Boston Red Sox in his debut game with Chicago.
Fisk had a solid season in 1983, hitting .289 with 26 HRs and 86 RBIs.  He'd go on to set records for most games caught and most home runs by a catcher, ending his storied career a decade later.
Fisk was a natural leader on the field and in the clubhouse.  As the name of this recipe implies, he was always there with a word of encouragement - or chastisement.
Apple brownies, it's easy!  True to Fisk's word, this is a very easy recipe.  So much so that it doesn't even mention what kinds of nuts to use or how many.  He just assumed you'd know something like that, ya belly itchin' rookie!  I went with a handful of chopped walnuts.
Fisk was known as a slow game-caller behind the plate, but these tasty brownies took no time at all. 
FINAL SCORE - Quick, and... easy!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Baked Chicken Breasts - Ted Kluszewski (White Sox Old Timer)


3 chicken breasts, halved; 6 pieces, skin removed
2 cans Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
1 16-oz. carton sour cream

Mix soup and sour cream together.  Pour a layer of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.  Salt and pepper uncooked breasts to taste and lay on top of sauce and cover the breasts with remaining sauce.

Bake 1 hour at 350F.  Put breasts on serving platter and use sauce to serve over noodles. 

Boneless breasts may be used but then 3/4 of a can of water must be added to sauce mixture.

Surprise!  The 1983 White Sox cookbook contains a handful of recipes from famous players of yore.  Many of these "old timers" played for the Sox in the 50s and 60s, and it's great to see them included in this book.  Nice tribute.  You will see the recipes themselves were very "old timery," even in the 80s.

Anyway, here's big Ted Kluszewski, the legendary sleeveless slugger.  The man came up to the plate looking and swinging like Fred Flintstone.  I'd love to see someone bring that look back today.

Kluszewski was a late addition to the 1959 White Sox team that won the AL Pennant and ended a 40-year post-season drought.  Big Klu batted .391 with 3 HRs and 10 RBIs during the World Series, but the Sox fell short to the Dodgers.

He played one more season with the Sox, then got drafted away by the expansion L.A. Angels.

Judging by this recipe, Klu got all the protein and carbs he needed at the dinner table.  Take especial note of the use of cream of mushroom soup.  As one flips through the pages of this cookbook, cream of mushroom soup appears again and again in the recipes.  It seems to have been a staple of mid-20th century American cuisine.

This particular recipe couldn't be any easier.  Three ingredients - three! - to make the chicken breasts, which are then served with noodles.  I threw some chives over the whole thing to add some colour.

The creamy mushroom sauce is tasty, so you really can't go wrong here.

FINAL SCORE - Eat this and you will grow up big and strong, just like Big Klu!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Noodle Casserole - Scott Fletcher (Infielder)

2 tbsp. butter
2 lbs. ground steak
1 clove garlic or garlic powder
40 oz. tomato sauce
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 large pkg. cream cheese
3/4 pint sour cream
4 green onions, use some of the tops
2 10-oz. pkg. noodles
grated cheddar cheese
Brown meat in butter, skim off liquid.  Add salt, pepper and garlic.  Then add tomato sauce, sugar and simmer 15 minutes.
Mix cream cheese, sour cream and onions.  Cook noodles and put into 12 x 7 1/2" casserole.  Cover noodles with cheese mixture and then meat sauce.
Sprinkle top with grated cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  This recipe makes enough for two casseroles. 

Scott Fletcher's time with the White Sox was short (two separate three-year stints), but just long enough to be part of the 1983 division winning team.

Fletcher arrived in a trade from the Chicago Cubs and looked to be the shortstop of the future for the Sox.  Then a kid from Venezuela named Ozzie Guillen burst onto the scene, won the AL Rookie of the Year Award, and Fletcher became expendable.  He was traded to the Rangers after the 1985 season.

Fletcher was traded back to the Sox in the 1989 trade that sent Harold Baines and Fred Manrique to the Rangers in return for himself, Wilson Alvarez and Sammy Sosa.  Fletcher shifted to 2B, but left as a free agent after the 1991 season.
Hang on to your waistlines - here come the casseroles!  This one is just the start.  There are a lot more of them in this cookbook.

This one might be my favourite.  There is nothing radical about the recipe, but the result is a pleasing combination of noodles, melted cheeses and beefy tomato sauce.

The assembly was pretty idiot-proof, and the outcome was delish.  The resulting huge amount of yummy goodness can serve a big group, or go into the freezer for later.  This is one recipe that I have noted for making again in the future. 

FINAL SCORE - sure, there are other flashier and more exotic casseroles out there, maybe even some from Venezuela, but this one is solid and reliable if not spectacular.  Worth holding on to!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Charro Beans - Jerry Hairston (Outfielder)


2 lbs. dry pinto beans
1 medium onion
1 medium tomato
1 small green pepper
6 slices of bacon
6 slices of ham
black pepper

Wash the beans and put them in a large pot to boil in water.  Cut the vegetables in big pieces and add.  Cut the bacon and ham in small pieces and put everything in the pot.  Add salt, black pepper and garlic to your taste.  Cook slowly on low temperature for about 2 hours or until the beans are tender.

Jerry Hairston Sr. is the second of three generations of Hairstons in the majors (his dad played for the White Sox in 1951, and his brother and sons are also major leaguers).

Hairston served as a backup outfielder and pinch hitter for most of 1983.  In fact, he was so good coming off the bench that he retired in 1990 as the Sox' all-time pinch hit leader with 87.

Charro Beans is a dish named after traditional Mexican horsemen (charros).  Is it soup?  Is it beans with gravy?  Somewhere in between? The amount of water you use will determine how "soupy" the dish ends up, but you want to make sure that there's enough water to cover the beans before boiling.

As well, if you don't want your serving to be too soupy, just pile the beans, veggies and meat into a bowl and go easy on the bean broth.

But you won't want to.  As you can see in the photo, I piled everything high, and made sure the bowl got a generous splash of broth.  If serving a group, this makes a nice side dish, but can just as easily be a meal on its own.  Tastes great and freezes well.

On the simplicity chart, this one is effortless.  Look at the recipe - it's five sentences long.  No labour, all flavour (just made that up, and yes, I'm Canadian so these entries will feature all sorts of extra letter "U"'s).

FINAL SCORE - Beans, beans, the magical fruit, etc. etc.  Es un ganador de los medias blancas.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Shrimp Creole - LaMarr Hoyt (Pitcher)


1 1/2 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled
1 can tomato paste
1 pint tomatoes, large can
1/8 tsp. soda
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup celery, diced
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 tblsp. salt
1 stick butter
3 whole bay leaves
1/2 cup water

Saute in 12" skillet, butter, onion, celery and green pepper for 5 min.  Add tomato paste, tomatoes, bay leaves, water and seasonings.  Cook 10 minutes covered. Add mushrooms, cook 10 more minutes.  Thicken with cornstarch if necessary.  Add shrimp and cook 5 minutes.  Remove bay leaves.  Serve over white rice.  Serves 4.  If you love shrimp, you'll love this! 

LaMarr Hoyt's 1983 was a career year not soon forgotten.  The big boy from South Carolina racked up 24 wins, a Game One win in the ALCS, and the Cy Young award.  Not too shabby for someone who was an unknown throw-in as part of the 1977 Oscar Gamble-Bucky Dent trade.

One look at burly, bearded Hoyt would tell you: "Here is a man who loves to eat.  Probably food that he tracked and killed himself.  It is highly likely that a pickup truck and some SKOAL were also involved at some point."

Hoyt did not offer up any wild game recipes for the 1983 White Sox cookbook, but this one for Shrimp Creole is classic southern cooking.  Easy, and damn tasty.  I liked it so much I adapted it for some leftover chicken the other day.  Once you have the rich red sauce going, you could probably throw in ham, sausage, pork, anything you like.  But the classic dish calls for shrimp.  As mentioned in the recipe, if you love shrimp, you will indeed love this.

There are two more recipes from Hoyt in this cookbook, so stay tuned for more.

FINAL SCORE - it's the Cy Young of shrimp dishes.  Yes!  These will always be corny!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tropical Delight Cake by Tony La Russa - from "Home Plate: The White Sox Favorite Recipes" (1983)


2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup honey
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour [I used regular whole wheat flour]
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 1/2 cups unsweetened, crushed pineapple, with juice
1 cup diced dates
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1/4 cup wheat germ

Mix all ingredients together.  Pour batter into an oiled and floured tube pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool.  Frost with Banana-Nut Cream Cheese Frosting [see below].

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 small ripe banana, mashed
8 tblsp. butter
2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Beat in honey and banana.  Add vanilla and nuts.  (Keep refrigerated.)  Chill to spreading consistency.  Decorate frosted cake with raisins [I used a dried fruit mix of dark raisins, white raisins, currants, cranberries and blueberries].

If I'm going to cook through the 1983 White Sox cookbook and name this blog after Tony La Russa, it makes sense to kick things off with his recipe.

La Russa became Sox manager midway through the 1979 season, replacing Don Kessinger.  La Russa was the latest in a managerial merry-go-round that saw four different managers come and go in the previous four seasons, but his hire would stick.

By 1983, La Russa had shaped the team into a contender and clinched his first division title.  After a slow start, the Sox went on a 59-26 rampage in the second half and won the AL West by 20 games.  La Russa won multiple Manager of the Year Awards, and went on to become one of the winningest managers in history.  But it all started with the White Sox.

This cake is pretty easy to make, once you have assembled all the ingredients.  Not sure how many of you keep things like dry milk powder or wheat germ in the pantry, but they should be available in your local grocery.  The tube pan was borrowed from my bemused mom.

Once everything was gathered up, it was a matter of mixing the dry and wet ingredients, then combining them and pouring everything into the tube pan.

The frosting is pretty intense.  I mean seriously, what comes out of the oven after 40 minutes is a nice fruitcake that isn't too dense or sickly-sweet.  But then you frost the thing with what is essentially a banana cheesecake.  Mercy!

This would be a good dish to serve up at holiday time, if you want to try something different.  I wouldn't recommend making this cake on a regular basis.  Tony himself kept pretty slim throughout his baseball career so I'm guessing he didn't indulge in Tropical Delight Cake too often.

FINAL SCORE - it's a White Sox Winner, but make it a rarity, like an AL West Division title.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Welcome to the 1980s!  Feel that neon glow from the arcade.  Sway to the synthpop on the radio.  Breathe in that air.  Careful though - acid rain.

In 1983, the Chicago White Sox were looking to build on their 87-75 record from the year before, when they finished six games behind the AL West division winning California Angels.  Led by Tony La Russa in his fourth full season as manager, the Sox had their sights set on returning to the post season after a long drought.

The White Sox also joined in the growing trend of publishing official team cookbooks.  Their entry was titled Home Plate: The White Sox Favorite Recipes.  Players, coaches and front office figures all submitted recipes.  From Jerry Reinsdorf to Roland Hemond, Harold Baines to Carlton Fisk, Ken Harrelson to Nancy Faust, and everybody in between.

The 1983 White Sox went on to win the AL West division title.

The 1983 White Sox cookbook has become a slice of team history.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of that memorable White Sox team, I will be taking wooden spoon and mixing bowl in hand, and cooking my way through all the recipes from the players, coaches and famous south side names that still resonate three decades later. 

Welcome to La Russa Gastronomique!

It's going to be one trippy trip...