"The greatest Indian cook in Britain"Jay Rayner "The Observer"
"Cook with love. Love your cooking" Gita Mistry

Sunday, 16 November 2014

DanceFood - A Dessert for Isaac Lee-Baker

Yesterday I saw Northern Ballet perform The Great Gatsby at the Bradford Alhambra. I had been invited by my friend Terpsichore who is ballet mad - though not as mad as some so I am told. Even though I was not feeling 100% she persuaded me to come and I am jolly glad I did for the show was excellent.

The Northern fielded some of its best dancers: Toby Batley. Martha Leebolt, Kenneth Tindall, Jessica Morgan, Giuliano Contadini, Hannah Bateman to name a few. All danced brilliantly and they richly deserved the thunderous applause that they received at the end. But for me the man of the match (if there is such a thing in ballet) was Isaac Lee-Baker.

When the great ballerina Anna Pavlova toured the world she touched the hearts of millions of people. One of those was Frederick Ashton. Another was Terpsichore's mum who saw her at The Grand when she was a little girl (see  In Leeds of all Places - Pavlova, Ashton and Magic. 18 Sep 2013 Terpsichore). Yet another was a chef in Wellington who created a dessert named after the great ballerina which has become the national dish of New Zealand and is tremendously popular in this country, Australia and the rest of the English speaking world too.

It was with this story in mind that I decided to create a variation of the Pavlova in honour of Isaac Lee-Baker. Cooking is an art form rather like ballet so here is the recipe in three acts:

Cast in order of appearance
Egg whites
Castor sugar
White wine vinegar
Double cream
Vanilla extract
Sweet Martini
Icing sugar

Act I - Preparation
Whisk the egg whites infused with lavender until soft peaks form (light and fluffy like a swan's tutu)
Whisk in the sugar until silky and smooth like the young Daisy
Mix in the cornflower and white wine vinegar to get the party going,

Act II - Baking the Meringue
Bake on parchment paper for 40 minutes
Leave to cool in the oven for a further 40
Divertissements: fouetté (whip up) the double cream with a drop of vanilla extract (you need Kenny Tindall for that)
Whiz up raspberries and strawberries with a sprinkle of icing sugar and a slash of sweet Martini to lift the sweetness in the fruit as elegantly as Toby Batley lifts Martha Leebolt
Sieve the coulis mixture and stir

Act III - Pièce de Résistance
Pas de deux  Lift the meringue our of the oven onto the cake stand
Layer the meringue with the vanilla cream
Gently place the fruit on the cream and drizzle the Martini coulis over the fruit
Dust with icing sugar

Curtains and Reverence

I hope this isn't the last time I am inspired to design a dish for a dancer. I'd love to hear what all you dancers like to eat. :-)

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