Saturday, December 10, 2011

Baseball in December!

'Tis the off-season and the world of baseball is but a sparse landscape of BLAH. Trades and negotiations are important, yes, but not always that exciting. Unless there is a signing so huge it inspires someone to create a blasphemous nativity scene with Ruben Amaro, Jr. and the four aces, I'm just not feeling it. I need action, or at the very least to be entertained (and the image of Cliff Lee’s head on a baby’s body makes me giggle till this day.)

Did I really think a show about MLB wives and their baseball diamonds was going to fill a void?Because all it really did was irritate me and then make me want to go shoe shopping.

So I started to think about other ways to reunite with my summer love and then it hit me. Like a 91 mph fastball coming at a completely still Chase Utley: a Baseball in December party!

Stay with me here.

Sometime during the 1980’s, Europeans started celebrating Christmas in July. While the exact origin of the festivity is not confirmed, it is said that a group of Irish tourists vacationing in the Sydney Blue Mountains one summer were inspired by the snow and convinced the resort owner to throw a bash called Yulefest. (My people are always looking for a reason to party.)

The event was such a success that the proprietor started a yearly tradition. Christmas in July gradually found its way to pubs, clubs, homes and eventually across the Atlantic. In the US, partakers were donning Hawaiian shirts, Santa hats, and all kinds of gay apparel. Just for one day, grilled turkey and roasted potato salad replaced tired old burgers, dogs, and your aunt's potato salad. There were cocktails with peppermint Schnapps happening poolside!
It is in that same spirit that I propose Baseball in December to be celebrated at one of your holiday parties. Screw the eggnog, eff the Chex Mix, and let's do this.
…Just so everyone is clear, I am not at all suggesting this take place on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I am not trying to make enemies with wives and mothers here. I said eff the Chex Mix, not the Seven Fishes-- Madon!
OK. A Baseball in December party should include your classic ballpark fare with a bit of refinement. So the plastic bottles of Anchor Steam and hotdogs wrapped in foil will have to wait a few more months.

I’m thinking Schmitter sliders and crab fries. For dessert, serve Graham Slam ice cream cones. For added merriment, why not drop in a shot of Godiva Liqueur first? You can also put out bowls of peanuts and crackerjacks along with a basket of soft pretzels. Yes, I said basket and for God’s sake put a tea towel in it first. (Oh. Those decorative non-absorbent things that are bigger than a dish towel but often mistaken as one? Yeah, that's what they're for.)


Along with your basic bar essentials, every party should feature a signature cocktail to compliment the evening’s theme. May I suggest High Apple Pie in the Sky?

You'll need:
  • 2 ounces whipped cream vodka
  • ½ ounce apple schnapps
  • 2 ounces apple cider or juice
  • ½ ounce caramel sauce
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. You can also rim the glass with crushed graham cracker crumbs.

If High Apple Pie in the Sky seems a bit sweet or heavy to be chasing schmitters with, you can offer another kind of cocktail you'd like to make. Just give it a baseball-related name and tack on a “tini” affix.

“Welcome, party guest! Would you enjoy a Charlie-tini? It has Penn 1681 Vodka in it, which is made right here in Philadelphia…”


The crab fries are a mere nod to the great Chickie's and Pete's-- and I will pretend for a moment that I know how to make their cheese sauce. Here's what you'll need...I think:
  • Frozen fries of your choice. Might I suggest a crinkle cut?
  • Sea salt
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Small holiday paper cups
  • 1 and ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I know. I too am slightly repulsed by my inner Paula Deen. But you need this to prevent the cheese sauce from solidifying after it comes off of the heat.)
  • 1 cup American cheese (I'm not entirely sure how this translates into flat squares but this is the ratio I feel comfortable providing.)
As the fries are baking (as per directions on package) stir the milk, mayonnaise and cheese on low heat. If needed, add more milk to thin or more cheese to thicken. When fries are done, season generously with Old Bay and sea salt like it’s your freaking job. When ready to serve, spoon the cheese sauce into cups (about 1/3rd filled) and add the fries so they stand up. For an extra touch of fanciness, carry around to your guests on a serving tray.

To make the sauce for the Schmitter sliders:
Mix 1 cup mayonnaise (again with the mayo- sorry.); 8 tablespoons sweet pickle relish; 4 tablespoon ketchup, and a dash or 4 of Worcestershire.

NOTE: The key to these is remembering to go smaller on everything because you are making sliders and therefore using smaller rolls.

For the actual sandwiches, you'll need:
  • 1 lb Roast beef…
  • ½ lb salami…
  • and ½ lb American Cheese all cut in half or quarters to fit the rolls
  • Tomato
  • Yellow onion
  • Slider rolls (They sell them in stores but if you can't find them, a sturdy dinner roll works too.)
  • Butter
  • Toothpicks
Heat a pad of butter in a 10-oz skillet. Add thinly sliced roast beef on side of the skillet, and thinly sliced sweet onions on the other. Cook until roast beef starts browning, about 3 minutes. Flip and brown other side, about 1 minute. Flip onion slices and transfer the beef stack on to the onions to continue cooking. Place salami next to that, and top with a slice of American cheese and tomato. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom of the salami is browned and the cheese starts to melt.

Place rolls cut side up on baking sheet with a piece of cheese on each top. Broil until rolls are toasted and cheese is melted. *This will not take long.* Move salami over to the roast beef and onions and transfer all on to bottom roll. Top with Schmitter sauce. Add roll top and secure with a toothpick.

These can be prepared ahead of time and kept warm in a 200-degree oven. If you do this, remember to let the oven cool down after the broil. Just sayin.

Good luck and enjoy. Don't forget the Graham Slam cones with the surprise shot at the bottom!
Oh. I should probably add some sort of legal footnote that those should be for responsible adults over the age of 21. And don't forget about your vegetarian friends.
Side note: Did you know CBP was voted 2007’s most vegetarian friendly ballpark by the Food Network? Yeah I didn’t think you did.

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