Gasparilla Cookbook


Good morning! I hope you are having a great week so far. If you live in the Tampa area then you know that Gasparilla is right around the corner and these brownies happen to be from the Gasparilla cookbook!

It is a super easy recipe and they are quite delicious. Perfect for your pirate festivities or a casual ladies night in! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 1 ounce chocolate squares unsweetened
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 well beaten eggs
  • 1 cup sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the chocolate and margarine over hot water and blend. Gradually add sugar then eggs and beat well. Add flour gradually, mixing just until it disappears. Add nuts and vanilla. Pour into two 8 x 8 2 inch pans which have been greased and paper lined. Cook 25 to 30 minutes at 350. Cut each pan into 16 squares. Let stand for 5 minutes before turning out to cool. Makes 32.


Gasparilla Cookbook

Pork Chops a la Margaret

We recently exhibited at the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic expo featuring all of our cookbooks and fielding quite a few questions about The Junior League of Tampa and our mission. Thank you to everyone who came out to pay us a visit and try one of our tasty recipes!


One of our committee members, Lauren, tried one of our Gasparilla cookbook recipes and shared her own addition to the meal below.

I made one of the recipes found in the Gasparilla Cookbook for dinner last night…. PORK CHOPS A LA MARGARET!

It was dee-licious!  The only change I made was to use Heinz Ketchup (I am from Pittsburgh!) that has jalapeno peppers in it.  It gave it a bit of a kick.  I served it over linguine noodles with a side serving of zucchini. I sliced the zucchini lengthwise, arranged them on a baking sheet, brushed them with olive oil, topped the slices with a mixture of finely chopped onion, Panko breadcrumbs and dry Ranch Dressing mix, and then topped that with shredded cheese. I then put the zucchini under the broiler until the cheese is melted, the zucchini is tender and the topping is slightly browned.
Pork Chops a la Margaret
The recipe was really easy to follow and tasted really great! If you are looking for something different to make tonight, I highly recommend the Pork Chops a La Margaret!
Pork Chops a la Margaret
Gasparilla Cookbook, page 117
8 pork chops
1/2 cup catsup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
Brown chops on both sides. Place in casserole dish or oven-proof platter. Assemble sauce and pour over pork chops. Cook in 325 degrees over for 1 1/2 hours. Serve over hot noodles. Serves 8.
Cookbooks History · Gasparilla Cookbook · recipe

Recreating a classic: The Hamwich

Betsy Graham, President of The Junior League of Tampa, was kind enough to offer her own special insight into a beloved Tampa recipe, the Hamwich. As a former Cookbook Chair and Executive Liaison to the New Cookbook Development Committee for Capture the Coast, she authored the new version which we are happy to present here.

One of my first experiences with The Junior League of Tampa involved a Hamwich.  A fairly recent transplant from the Northeast to Tampa, I attended the Holiday Boutique at Junior League of Tampa Headquarters in December, 1999.  As I didn’t know that many people, I gravitated towards the food table in the center of the main room. That’s where I first encountered the delectable, impossible-to-eat-just-one, two-bite sandwich known as the “Hamwich”. I later learned this crowd-pleasing creation was a staple of Holiday Boutique and any League function, church reception, or cocktail party in Tampa.

Fast forward 10 years, and I found myself assisting with development of the 4th Volume of the Culinary Collection, Capture the Coast.  We knew that we wanted to produce an updated version of the Hamwich as the original “Ham-Wiches” recipe in The Gasparilla Cookbook was not the Hamwich of recent years.  In fact, I remember my excitement when I first learned that the Hamwich recipe existed in Gasparilla, only to feel great disappointment when I looked up the recipe and read through the ingredient list:

1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 small chopped onion
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
6 hamburger buns
6 slices ham
6 slices Swiss or American cheese

A hamburger bun!?  I think not.  One of the keys to the modern Hamwich is the roll.  Most Hamwich aficionados would agree that the ideal Hamwich is made with a pan of Publix small dinner rolls.  Unfortunately, those rolls are only available around the holidays, and Hamwiches are good all year round.  A worthy substitute is the Sister Schubert frozen yeast dinner roll, and that is the roll around which the Capture the Coast recipe is based.

Once the roll was selected, it was merely a matter of determining the appropriate balance of ham and Swiss cheese (best shaved and shredded, respectively), butter/mustard/poppy seed mix (now containing a dash of Worcestershire sauce for enhanced flavor), and onion.  We consulted with a few “Hamwich experts” in the League only to find that opinions differed as to how to make the perfect Hamwich.  Some like more sauce, some less.  Some even prefer the Hamwich without onion…the variations go on.   After a few experiments, we landed on the ingredient measures found in the Capture the Coast recipe.  We also decided to portion the recipe for one pan of rolls, perfect for a small function, and easily multiplied for a crowd.


3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 teaspoons mustard

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

1/3 cup chopped onion

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

1 (16-ounce) package frozen dinner rolls

1/3 pound shaved ham

2/3 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the butter, mustard, poppy seeds, onion and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Remove the rolls in one piece from the foil pan and cut into halves horizontally. Replace the bottom half in the foil pan and spread evenly with the poppy seed mixture. Layer the ham and cheese over the bottom half of the rolls. Replace the top half of the rolls cut side down over the cheese. Cut into individual servings. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown. The rolls may be frozen before baking.


Cookbooks History · Gasparilla Cookbook

The Gasparilla Cookbook

The legend of the pirate Jose Gaspar, who once haunted the bays and inlets of Florida’s West Coast, is the inspiration for Tampa’s annual festival, Gasparilla. Just as Gasparilla is Tampa’s signature event, The Gasparilla Cookbook celebrates our unique culinary heritage.

Cover of The Gasparilla Cookbook
Cover of The Gasparilla Cookbook

First published in 1961, The Gasparilla Cookbook was The Junior League of Tampa’s first foray into the world of cookbooks – and a successful foray it was.  Over the past 49 years, it’s been reprinted more than 20 times, has sold over a quarter of a million copies and has won several awards, including the Southern Living Hall of Fame Award.  It contains over 700 recipes, all of which were submitted by League members, local restaurants, and residents of the Tampa Bay area.  It’s one of the most popular League cookbooks to date

Of course, while seeing a copy of The Gasparilla Cookbook in the hands of one of the most famous and most recognizable women in the world, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, surely boosted sales, it’s the recipes that keep the book in print today.  The Spanish Bean Soup is perfection; there are two recipes for Bolichi that are both out of this world; and there are two Picadillo recipes that are simply fantastic.  These, and several other recipes in the book, are quintessential Tampa as they highlight the Spanish influence that’s prevalent throughout the area.

Illustration from the Gasparilla Cookbook- "Invasion Day"
Illustration from the Gasparilla Cookbook- "Invasion Day"

However, the recipes aren’t the only stars of this cookbook. The artwork that precedes each chapter of the cookbook was created by Tampa’s own Lamar Sparkman, who was quite the local legend.  Since 1947, he regularly created cartoons for the Tampa Tribune sports pages about the University of Florida, Florida State, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His most famous work, however, could be seen every Sunday during football season on the helmets of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Lamar created “Bucco Bruce,” the pirate who was the logo for the Bucs for 20 years. You can learn more about Lamar here.

Another celebrity of the times, Clementine Paddleford, came to Tampa one year during the annual Gasparilla invasion and festival.  Clementine Paddleford was a food writer for the New York Herald Tribune whose readership numbers topped over 12 million during the 1950s and ‘60s.  She flew all over the country in search of the best recipes and she was wisely brought here, to Tampa, by Byron Crowder, promotions chair for The Gasparilla Cookbook.  After spending a week in Tampa and tasting several of the recipes in the book, Clementine returned to New York City and wrote a glowing article about the cookbook that no doubt had a hand in helping to build the successful sales history of The Gasparilla Cookbook.  You can learn more about Clementine here.

The success of The Gasparilla Cookbook has been helping to support The Junior League of Tampa’s efforts to

Illustration from the Gasparilla Cookbook
Illustration from the Gasparilla Cookbook- "Fish House"

better the lives of so many in the Tampa Bay area for almost 50 years and will surely continue doing so for many more.  If you don’t already have a copy, or if your copy has seen better days, you can purchase a new copy here.  They make excellent gifts and 100% of the proceeds from your purchase will be used to support the JLT’s ongoing community projects.