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.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup by Jim Brower - from "Giants Entrées" (2004)


1 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. shredded chicken*, pre-cooked
1 15 oz. can Italian style stewed tomatoes, cubed [I substituted a 17 oz. jar of hot habanero salsa, and omitted the chili powder and Tabasco below -- it was still plenty hot!]
4 cups chicken broth
3 carrots**, chopped
2 small zucchini**, sliced
1 tsp. lemon pepper
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
4 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup water
tortilla chips, avocado, shredded jack cheese

* To make shredded chicken, place chicken pieces in a big pot of cold water, bring to a boil, season with salt & pepper, then cover and simmer for an hour.  About halfway through, skim off the unappealing white scum that floats to the surface of the water.  When the hour has elapsed, remove chicken and let it cool for about 10 minutes.  To shred, use two forks to gently pull the meat apart into bite sized pieces.
** Other vegetables can be substituted according to preference.

In stockpot, add oil, garlic and onions.  Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. 

Add tomatoes, broth, carrots, zucchini, lemon pepper, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin and Tabasco. Simmer for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine flour and water.  Whisk into soup.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Top with tortilla chips, avocado and cheese. 

Serves 4.

Safe to say that Jim Brower is not the best known San Francisco Giants pitcher ever.  In fact, he wasn't a Giant for very long.  He spent time with eight different major league teams: Cleveland Indians (1999-2000), Cincinnati Reds (2001-02), Montreal Expos (2002), San Fran (2003-04), Atlanta Braves (2005), Baltimore Orioles (2006), San Diego Padres (2006) and New York Yankees (2007).  Career record: 33-32, 4.67 ERA, 397 strikeouts.

Brower's time with the Giants may not have left a mark, but this soup rocks hard.  I mean look it.  Even my lousy photography couldn't wreck that sublime view.

It's a good soup for a lazy weekend afternoon.  It might seem like a lot of steps, but they are easy to follow.  I found some habanero salsa in the local market and I love hot food, so I decided to substitute that instead of the canned stewed tomatoes.  It made the soup that much more "Tex-Mexy".

Be sure not to boil this soup too hard or too long, else the zucchini slices will overcook, becoming mushy and gross.

Adding the flour-water mix gives the soup a thicker consistency, definitely worth it.  As the recipe indicates, you can use whatever veggies you like, or for a vegan version just swap out the chicken with more veggies, like corn, black beans, etc.  Ultimately, this recipe is a great foundation for your own experimentation.

Win #34 for Mr. Brower.

California Peach Pie by Chris Skau - from "Royals' Recipes: World Series Style" (1980)


1 large unbaked pie shell
peaches [I used three]
2 eggs
1 pint milk
1 cup sugar

Peel peaches.  Halve or quarter and place in unbaked pie shell.

Mix eggs, milk and sugar together.  Pour over peaches.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 350 F for 30 to 40 minutes or until custard thickens. 

Cool before serving.

Chris Skau was organist for the Kansas City Royals during their World Series heydays of the 80s.  I don't know if he was originally from California, or it just happened to be the title of the recipe that he passed on, but either way this dish doesn't really scream "California."

I found some huge, firm peaches at the local market and used them here.

The recipe seems idiot-proof, right?  Well, I still managed to overfill the pie shell and the liquid mix slowly dribbled out during the early minutes of baking.  Pro Tip: always bake pies on a cookie sheet!

Anyway, once the dribbling stopped, the filling baked into a nice custardy consistency.  Use your eyes and jugement to determine how long to bake it for.  Even after 50 minutes it came out just a bit watery in the centre, and it could have used a few minutes more.  For a first crack it turned out decent.  I could devour the softened, cinnamon sprinkled peach slices on their own, oh yeahhhh.

For folks with more experience baking custards, pies, and custard pies, this one should be a cinch, and delish too!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Barbecue Short Ribs by Daniel O'Brien - from "From the Mariner's Galley Cookbook" (1979)


3 pounds of short ribs
2 Tbl drippings
1 onion sliced
1 2-ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup water
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp chili powder

Brown ribs on all sides in skillet.  Place ribs in casserole dish.  Reserve 2 tablespoons of drippings in skillet, and add remaining ingredients.  Heat to boil and pour over meat.  Cover and bake at 350F for 1 1/2 hours.  Garnish with watercress or parsley.

I wouldn't know former Seattle Mariners President and CEO Daniel O'Brien if he barged into my kitchen and shouted "I am Daniel O'Brien!".  According to his bio in the From the Mariner's Galley cookbook, he joined the Mariners in 1979 from the Texas Rangers organization.  He later worked for the Indians in the 80s and the Angels in the 90s.

I was looking for a simple barbecuey recipe for the Canada Day holiday a couple days ago and found this one.  It looked idiot-proof and I had all the ingredients minus the ribs.  A quick trip to the supermarket and we were ready to go.

To give the ribs an extra flavour explosion, I snuck in a quick pour of my favourite maple-hickory BBQ sauce and you could add your favourite too.  The result was a pile of tender ribs slathered in thick, tasty sauce.  The onions were sort of an afterthought, and I didn't bother with the watercress or parsley garnish.  What for?  It's all about the ribs, man!

So thank you Daniel O'Brien.  Your teams were mediocre, but your ribs were dalashous!

Bookshelf - "From the Mariner's Galley" (1979) by the Seattle Mariners

96 pp. in plastic binder-style binding
48 recipes from players, coaches and staff
This was a lucky find on ebay, where it had been sitting for some time before I snapped it up.
The Seattle Mariners love -- LOVE -- publishing cookbooks.  Over the years they have put out at least five of them, and it all started with this one from the still-fledgling expansion franchise.
As cookbooks from the 70s go, this one contains the obligatory recipe for Orange Jello Salad (by infielder Bill Stein) and Carrot Cake (infielder Bobby Valentine). 
There are also some fancy dishes for balance, like Saltinbocca alla Toscana (promotions and marketing director Jack Carvalho) and London Broil (pitcher Mike Parrott).
This cookbook also contains a couple of oddities, like a recipe for dog biscuits (woof!).  There's also a recipe for baked Polish squirrel by third base coach Bill Mazeroski, which concludes: "The only thing less edible than the parsley is the baked squirrel."  Wacky man, Bill Mazeroski.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Bear With Me, Please.

Finally getting around to revamping this here blog and sharing my mania for baseball cookbooks with the world.

It's a bit messy at the mo, bear with me please.  Not sure what kind of format I'm going for, some kind of idiot-proof Tumblrization of the existing blog. 

In the meantime, please scroll down and enjoy some "Classic La Ru" episodes from 2013.