Thursday, July 23, 2015

"All Star Feast Cookbook" &" [Minnesota Twins] Home Plate Hits" - Artichoke Spread and Chicken Parmesan - Celebrating MLB's All Star Game

Date I made these recipes: July 21, 2015 – one week after Major League Baseball's All-Star Break

All Star Feast CookbookOver 130 Star Athletes Reveal Their Favorite Recipes,  Benefiting the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis and the Women's Sports Foundation compiled by Wendy Diamond
Published by:  Global Liaisons, Incorporated
ISBN:  0-9647316-1-4; ©1997
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores
Recipe:  (Derek Jeter's) Double-Play Chicken Parmesan – p. 70

(Minnesota Twins) Home Plate HitsRecipes from the Kitchens of the Minnesota Twins' Wives, Players, and Staff
Published by:  Waldman House Press
ISBN: 0-931675-27-1; ©1994
Purchased at Arc's Value Village Thrift Stores
Recipe:  Ace Artichoke Dip from Sherry and Rick Aguilera (former pitcher) – p. 5

Whew, there is so much to discuss about these recipes, I cannot tell you!

So last week was MLB's annual All-Star Break baseball games between the American League and the National League.  Although we sometimes watch the game, this year it was competing with the Tour de France and my husband, who loves to bike ride, takes over the remote controls and never looks back.  And so we watched the Tour, quel dommage (what a pity)!

Also?  It was ridiculously hot and humid last week, and the thought of turning on my oven remained just that – a "thought."  No way was I going to heat up my house just to make a dish.

Finally, it took me until yesterday morning – July 21 – the day I actually made these dishes to make up my mind because I just could not commit to any one thing from the Twins' cookbook until the very last second. But since the dish was a [home run] hit, I'm glad I vacillated.

So:  in the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you thanks to my late father, a New Jersey native and lifelong NY Yankees fan, I too, have been rooting for my Yankees for...forever.  I went to my first game in New York in 1974 and can still recall the thrill, even if they lost to the Milwaukee Brewers.  Since then, I've been to several games, both in NYC as well as here in Minneapolis when they play the Twins and it never gets old.  I've had the pleasure of going to the "old" Yankees stadium, the new one that was just built and in 1974 when the stadium was under renovation, we watched that game in the old Shea Stadium.  For the record, even though I am not a Mets fan, I'm still calling their old home Shea Stadium because that's where my baseball memory happened.

Favorite Yankees game memorable moments are:
  • Buying and eating pizza by the slice from a vendor at Shea Stadium.  Only in New York.
  • Taking the train then a bus then a subway to Shea Stadium – easily accomplished on the way there – and then reversing the order on the way back which was fraught with peril (too many people trying to squeeze onto the subway) but memorable nonetheless.
  • One year Andy and I went to the game with friends, and every time I went up to get a bottle of water and/or to use the restroom (one follows the other), the Yankees scored a home run so the guys started yelling at me to stay back for a while so the Yankees would continue to score. I am SUCH a good luck charm!
  • One year a a drunken man fell in the stands, knocking over a woman, injuring her such that the EMT's had to come up in the stands to assist.  When the cops came up to our section and asked "Who did this?" the crowd turned on the man in a New York minute and said "He did it!" while pointing straight at him.  And people think New Yorker's turn the other way – ha! 
  • Being at the new stadium the day Hideki Matsui (Japanese player, former outfielder and designated hitter "DH") retired.  It's an odd thing to see so many people in kimonos rotting for the guy.  Yet another "only in NY" moment.
  • At the same game, seeing Derek Jeter come off the DL (disabled list) only to hit a homer at his first at bat of that game.  In New York, the fans always yell "Der-ek Je-ter" followed by five claps.  (Go to YouTube, enter "Jeter Chant" and there'll you have it.)
  • The year my dad who lived in Michigan, my home state, came to Minneapolis so we could take in a Yankees game against the Minnesota Twins.  We ended up in quite the Yankee fan rooting section and we had an absolute blast.  A few months later, he attended a Yankees game with my brother in the new stadium but it wasn't the same because my brother is a Detroit Tigers fan so...

I've also managed to be in NYC a couple of times when they were in the pennant race and one year, when they won the World Series, I even went to the ticker take parade and am here to tell you that is something I would never do again, not because it wasn't fun but because I, along with hundreds of others, were nearly trampled to death near the parade route.  I'll spare you the details because it's a long story, best told over cocktails, but it made for one, frightening moment.   

Now then, although I am loyal and true to my boys in blue (and gray and white), that does not mean that I don't care about the Minnesota Twins.  I do – so long as they are not playing my Yankees.  And it was impossible not to get caught up in Twins' fever when they were in the pennant race (which they won) in 1987 and 1991.  Somewhere in this house, I still have my "Homer Hankie," created and distributed by our local newspaper, the StarTribune. 

Like my Yankees, I also have fond memories of when the Twins won the World Series.  In October 1987, my best friend, Carol, and I took the train to Chicago for a long, birthday weekend.  When we stopped off overnight in Milwaukee to stay with her brother, we all watched the playoff games on his tiny (and I mean tiny) TV.  And then in Chicago, we interrupted our sightseeing and shopping to take in a day game in a sports bar somewhere in the Loop, along with a ton of other people interested in the outcome.  And then in 1991, we were swept up once again in World Series fever, and this time, my friend came over to our apartment and we watched the final game together.  As Carol said "It was tense.  So tense."  But great fun.

And I will say that although I saw the Minnesota Twins play several times at the old Met stadium, former home to the Minnesota Vikings, where the Mall of America now stands, as well as the Dome (and that was an experience, best forgotten), their new/newish stadium downtown is beautiful, absolutely beautiful.  Plus, we can take the light rail to it, no sweat!  I simply love door to (stadium) door service.

Speaking of no sweat," it was a little warm yesterday but luckily the artichoke spread from the Minnesota Twins' cookbook was made on the stovetop leaving the oven for the chicken parm which only took 20 minutes.  Cooking in the summer is fraught with peril and I often reschedule the making of a particular dish until the weather cools a bit. And this is why you are getting these recipes a week after the All-Star Game.  Needs must, people.  Needs must.

Okay then, so let's talk about our two cookbooks, both of which yielded some yummy recipes and used minimal oven time, be still my heart.

As the name (and cover photos) suggests, the All Star Feast Cookbook does not just feature baseball players, it features players and coaches from just about every sport we love to watch and/or play:  football, basketball, hockey, baseball, tennis, boxing, golf and so on and so forth.  That said, I pretty much eliminated half the book just because I didn't like a particular athlete and/or team (Yes, I'm bitchy that way) and then further culled the herd by eliminating foods I didn't like such as fish and then hmmm....suspiciously and perhaps in a Freudian way, that left me with...well what do you know, Derek Jeter?  How did that happen? ("Der-ek Je-ter, clap, clap, clap, clap clap!")  And actually, I liked his recipe because it was quick, easy, Italian and from a baseball player and seeing as how I planned this blog dinner around the All-Star Game, it worked perfectly.

Now if you don't like baseball, and some people don't, there should be plenty of other recipes to float your "All-Star" boat. In fact, there's a recipe from Bruce Jenner (and ex-wife, Kris Jenner) long before Bruce became Caitlyn.  And can I just say I'm disappointed that Arnold Palmer's recipes don't include one for his famous Arnold Palmer drink (of ice tea and lemonade and then maybe or maybe not some alcohol?). 
As to the Twins cookbook, like I said earlier, sheesh it was hard to pick a recipe to go with the chicken.  I had several pages marked throughout this book, pretty much one in every category that included:  Warm-Ups; Hey Batter Batter Breads and Soups; Play Ball!  Main Courses; Short Stops Salads  & Sides and Sweet Spot Desserts so there was that problem.

The next problem I had was that since I'm a Yankees fan, I had next to no idea who some of the Twins' players were and not that I couldn't have made something from somebody I didn't know, but I wanted to sort of tie it in together.  And I have to tell you that several of Kent Hrbek's recipes (former 1st baseman) were in the running until I decided that they were really meals all by themselves and therefore too heavy to put with my chicken parm.  And then I considered a Shortstop Beef Casserole (because Derek Jeter played shortstop) but again, that dish was just too heavy to pair with the chicken parm.  And sure, I could have made another dish from the All-Star cookbook but my theme was baseball so everything else had to revolve around that dish, period.

Well, after much contemplation, I went back to the beginning to the appetizer section and made a split-second decision to make the artichoke spread and it was delicious and easy and I even knew who Rick Augilera was so there you go.

Both of these dishes are home plate hits so there you go and so batter up!  Your kitchen dugout awaits you.

Ace Artichoke Dip – serves 8-10  (Ann's Note:  I made half this recipe and that was still a lot of dip!)
1 cup mayonnaise
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
2 6-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and diced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
12-14 slices wheat bread, toasted and cut into fourths

In small saucepan, combine mayonnaise, cheeses, and garlic salt.  Cook and stir over low heat until cheeses melt.  Stir in artichokes.

Add chopped parsley.  Remove from heat and arrange on serving dish with toast points.  Have a knife handy for spreading.

Double-Play Chicken Parmesan – serves 6
6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1/3 cup flour
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
2 cups prepared spaghetti sauce
6 thin slices mozzarella cheese

Dredge chicken with flour.  Dip in egg whites until coated.  Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Roll chicken in bread crumb mixture until completely covered. In a frying pan, heat oil.  Saute onion and garlic for about 2 minutes.  Add chicken and cook about 5 to 6 minutes per side.  Transfer to a baking pan.  Top with favorite spaghetti sauce and one think slice of mozzarella cheese.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until tender.

Anns' Notes (and lots of them):
  1. They don't make chicken breasts like they used to because man, the ones I bought were huge and probably double the size needed.  So after frying them up in the oil, I microwaved them for 10 minutes before putting them in the oven so that they wouldn't end up raw in the middle.  This turned out to be the perfect solution as the breasts were quite tender.  You might want to cut the breasts in half when you make them but if not, just remember that athletes need protein!
  2. Derek doesn't mention oil at all in his ingredient list (it shows up in the instructions) so I coated the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil and even then, probably could have added more. 
  3. Also MIA in the instruction department was what, if anything to do with the garlic.  I couldn't see the point of sautéing an entire garlic clove so I minced it.  Missing or incomplete instructions (or ingredients) are such a pet peeve of mine that is usually ticks me off but this is Derek Jeter we're talking about so...
  4. Derek, Derek, Derek! One "thin" slice of mozzarella only?  Silly rabbit.  I used almost the whole ball of hand-pulled mozzarella I purchased from Kowalski's (I've never had hand-pulled before) and then promptly ate what I didn't use.  There is no such thing as too much mozzarella and no such thing as a "thin" slice.
  5. In the interest of time, I succumbed to using jarred sauce as directed by on any other day, I would have made up my own family's recipe for authenticity. 

No comments: