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.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gary's Peanut Soup by Gary Saunders - from "Home Plate Cookbook" (1998)


1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/3 cup butter
3 tbsp. flour
2 quarts chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1/2 cup peanuts
1 tbsp. oil
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 3/4 cups light cream
chopped peanuts

Saute onion and celery in butter until soft.  Add flour, stirring until well blended.  Gradually add chicken stock, stirring until smooth.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and strain.

Place 1/2 cup peanuts and oil in a food processor, and process until smooth.  Add ground peanut mixture, peanut butter, and cream to strained mixture, stirring until well blended and smooth.  Cook over low heat until warm (do not boil).

Garnish each serving with chopped peanuts.

I love peanut soup.  Friggin love it.

Peanut soup is a west African thing, and a southern U.S. thing.  I have prepared versions from both regions, and this one here is one of the simplest, especially if you have most of these ingredients on hand already.

The end result of this recipe from the Home Plate Cookbook is a salty-peanutty broth that I fought hard not to guzzle right out of the bowl like a maniac.  The addition of chopped peanuts gives a crunchy surprise as you mow through your serving.

If peanut soup is foreign to you, go ahead and give it a try.  It's thinner and more savoury than a peanut butter smoothie, but just as delish if not more.

And if you really wanted to make this into a thematic baseball soup, top it with some cracker jacks right before serving.

Minnie's Cuban Paella by Minnie Miñoso - from "Home Plate Cookbook" (1998)


12 clams in the shell
6 cups water
2 1/2 lbs. fresh shrimp
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup white rice
1 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1 cube chicken bouillon
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 onions, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, finely grated

Place clams in 6 cups water and bring to a boil.  Add shrimp and red pepper; boil five minutes.  Drain, reserving 2 1/2 cups stock.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a 3-quart saucepan.  Add rice and reserved stock; stir well.  Add salt, bay leaf and bouillon cube; simmer 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Pour remaining 2 tablespoons oil into a 6-quart Dutch oven.  Add garlic, onion and green pepper; sauté 10 minutes.

Add cooked shrimp, clams and rice mixture along with tomatoes and olives; stir to blend.  Pour all ingredients into a Paella pan or oven-safe serving dish.  Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake 10-15 minutes.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Legendary White Sox outfielder Minnie Miñoso -- the Cuban Jackie Robinson -- was held in such esteem that the better part of the city of Chicago went into mourning when he passed away in 2015.

Miñoso's MLB career began way back in 1949 with Cleveland.  He spent most of his prime with the Indians and especially the White Sox, for whom he played for most of the 1950s.  He went on to attain unequalled status as the only man to play in the majors in five different decades.

The nine-time All Star had his number 9 retired by Chicago, where he is affectionately known as Mr. White Sox.  After his final MLB appearance in 1980, he worked as a coach and ambassador for the Sox organization for the rest of his life. 

You can imagine my excitement at discovering one of Minnie's very own recipes in the Home Plate Cookbook.  At first glance, "Minnie's Cuban Paella" looks like it might even be a personal, hand-drawn recipe from the old country.  Right until you get to the cheddar cheese.

Cheddar cheese on top of a paella?  That seemed an unlikely ingredient, so I asked my good friend Iron Chef Español for his opinion.  He immediately declared that putting cheddar on a paella is something only a heathen would do.

So out of curiosity I started googling around for "Cuban Paella" and "Cheddar Paella".  One of the search results uncovered this old McCall's Great American Recipe card from 1973, with the exact same recipe.

So the truth comes out!  Alas, "Minnie's Cuban Paella" was just a copy of an Americanized recipe for homemakers of the 70s.  

I guess one can still imagine Minnie enjoying this dish, perhaps as an easy-step paella to make at home, which it is.  Don't get me wrong, paella is still a multi-step process, but the end result of this one was decent enough.  After 10 minutes in the oven, the cheddar melted in between the grains of rice for a pleasantly gooey result, even if not authentically Cuban or even Spanish.

Ahh, it was fine, no need to be so critical.  If I had to do it again, I'd ditch the clams and throw in some spicy chorizo instead.  

Viva Miñoso!

French Silk Chocolate Pie by Bobby Thigpen - from "Home Plate Cookbook" (1998)


1 (8-ounce) stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 baked pie shell
heavy cream, whipped
slivered almonds

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Blend in chocolate and vanilla, add eggs one at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition.

Pour mixture into pie shell and chill for at least 3 hours.  Top with whipped cream and almonds.

In 1990, Bobby Thigpen came out of nowhere to shatter the MLB single season saves record with 57.  The previous record was held by Dave Righetti, who saved 46 games for the New York Yankees in 1986.

The 1990 season would prove to be a career year for Thigpen, who went into decline after that due to an offseason injury.  He was traded to Philadelphia in 1993, signed with Seattle in 1994, and ended his professional career in Japan.  Currently, he is back with the White Sox as bullpen coach.

This is one of two recipes that Thigpen submitted for the Home Plate Cookbook, the other one being for a shrimp spread.

French silk chocolate pie is unique in that it is a no-bake pie (aside from the crust), and it contains raw eggs.  That may freak some people out, but if you have the stomach for it, this makes for a nice, chocolately pie.  Silky too, as the name implies.

I got shy on the almonds when it came time to take some photos.  Later on I poured slivers all over the whipped cream for a nicer look and better contrast of textures.  The chocolate filling is very smooth, and this is an easy pie to make.

Frosted Old-Fashioned Amaretto Brownies by Ken Berry - from "Home Plate Cookbook" (1998)


2 cups sugar
1 3/4 sticks butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. cocoa powder or 2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
2 tbsp. amaretto
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
frosting (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine sugar with melted butter; stir in eggs.  Add flour, salt, cocoa/chocolate, and amaretto; stir well.  Stir in pecans if desired (mixture will be thick).

Spread mixture onto a greased jellyroll pan.  Bake 12-15 minutes.  Frost while brownies are still warm.

4 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
4 tbsp. hot water
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. amaretto

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add cocoa powder and stir well.

Remove pan from heat, and stir in hot water.  Add powdered sugar and amaretto; mix until smooth.

Outfielder Ken Berry played for the Chicago White Sox from 1962-70.  

Those were some lean years for the Sox, with no postseason appearances during that stretch.  However, Berry made the AL All Star team in 1967 and enjoyed a 20-game hitting streak with the Sox that same year.  

After the 1970 season (one of the worst in Chicago history), he was traded to the California Angels.  He spent three seasons there, and was then traded to Milwaukee, where he played the 1974 season before being released again.  He signed on with Cleveland for the start of the 1975 season, but was released in June of that year and retired.

Berry offered up this tasty recipe to the Home Plate Cookbook for Amaretto-infused brownies and frosting, and it is fantastic.  Basically, it's brownies, but the Amaretto liqueur gives them a bonus hit of almond flavour.  I added the optional pecans to add some nuts to the mix.  

Overall this is an easy recipe that rewards you with a pan of distinctively dalashous brownies.

Bookshelf - "Home Plate Cookbook" (1998) by Gary Saunders

142 pp. in plastic binder-style binding

77 recipes from various baseball players, managers, owners, broadcasters, announcers and more

Here's an interesting find.  It's a collection of recipes from across the spectrum of baseball.  Hall of Fame players, managers and owners, broadcasters and announcers, and other personalities of the game.

At the time he published this cookbook, Gary Saunders had worked in a variety of roles in minor league baseball, from director of ticketing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to general manager in Meridian, Mississippi.  

Gary provided his own family recipe for peanut soup.  Among the other recipes are submissions from legends like Wade Boggs, Mickey Mantle, Pete Rose, Tim Salmon and Bobby Valentine.

White Sox fans will find a bunch of recipes from palehose players:

- Moe Drabowsky's Mexican Potatoes

- Don Kessinger's Chicken Ravioli

- Greg Luzinski's "Bull" Brownies

- Hal Trosky's Bacon and Egg Lasagne

I made a bunch of the above recipes with decent results.  Click the links to see the results.