In “Mad Kitchen,” Madeleine Brown speaks to members of the Toronto theatre community about one of their favourite recipes.
“Heather, was it the curry chicken?”
“That was definitely one of the more memorable ones. And one of the moments where we were like, ‘We need to make a cooking show.’”
Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee (aka Toronto’s favourite clown sisters, Morro and Jasp) remember an early experience cooking together, during a time when internet recipes weren’t so consistent in quality. And although the recipe’s poached chicken turned out pleasantly juicy, the “curry sauce” (ie. yogurt and curry powder), tart and bland in taste, made them laugh. It became one of several unfortunate (yet amusing) results of cooking as a pair.
“Individually we were both pretty good in the kitchen, but, for some reason, together it was a bit of a disaster,” says Lee. Given the hilarity of these experiences and their potential to lend themselves to the ridiculousness of clown, they became the inspiration for Morro and Jasp’s next show.
Annis and Lee started developing the show Morro and Jasp: Go Bake Yourself, which eventually turned into their cookbook, Eat Your Heart Out with Morro and Jasp, after they were approached by a publisher at a 2013 Fringe performance. Annis’s mother’s pie crust is integrated into both. “We were obsessed with that smell,” says Lee.
Morro and Jasp prepare the recipe (including a filling) over the course of Go Bake Yourself, before serving forkfuls to their audience at the end of each performance. And it also concludes their book, with an accompanying full-page illustration by Annis. She attributes its deliciousness to the usage of both butter (frozen, not simply refrigerated) and shortening.
Pie aside, love (and food as an embodiment of it) is the motivation behind their cooking onstage and off. “If you can’t make it with love, it’s not going to turn out as well,” says Annis. It’s why they enjoy cooking for others as much as with each other.
Food plays a role, somehow, in all of Annis and Lee’s shows. For the first day of rehearsal on Morro and Jasp in Stupefaction last year, they brought apple fritters from the Purple Penguin Cafe. “We were almost late for our own show because we were waiting for them to bake,” says Lee. For their recent run of Of Mice of Morro and Jasp with the Manitoba Theatre for Young People, Lee downed two bottles of coke a day and Annis four packages of McDonald’s ketchup. Meanwhile, back in the summer of 2015, Annis stuffed her face with Cheezies and Miss Vickies salt and vinegar potato chips for Morro and Jasp do Puberty in the Toronto and Edinburgh fringe festivals.
“It’s so gross!” says Annis.
“But we do it to ourselves! We choose this,” retorts Lee.
For these clown sisters, substitutes of water for coke or plain chips for the flavoured Miss Vickies won’t deliver the same effect. Food and humour reign supreme.
Pie Crust (from Eat Your Heart Out with Morro and Jasp)
Makes one pie crust
- ⅓ cup butter
- ⅓ cup vegetable shortening
- 1½ cups flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt (unless you’re using salted butter)
- 4-6 tbsp ice water
- pie filling of choice (see note below)
- Measure and freeze the butter and shortening for at least 30 minutes. Put the water in the freezer so it gets good and cold for when you need it. It is the secret to a good pastry.
- Mix up your flour, sugar, and salt in a big bowl. Grate in the butter and coat it with the flour mixture. Grate in the shortening and gently toss it all with your fingers—not too much, but make sure there are no large clumps. Add in the ice water as needed to hold the dough together. It’ll still have bits of butter and shortening,, but don’t handle it too much because that’s what makes the dough flaky when baked.
- Form the dough into a disk shape and pop it into a plastic bag. Toss it into the freezer for an hour or so. If you prep the dough the night before, put it in the fridge, not the freezer.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Take the dough out of the fridge/freezer. Throw some flour on the counter and flour your rolling pin.
- Cut the dough into two pieces, one slighter bigger than the other (the slightly smaller one is for the top crust). Roll out the bigger piece for the bottom crust, making sure to keep your surface floured so the dough won’t stick to the counter. Put the dough into a pie dish and add your filling. Then, roll out the smaller piece (Lee and Annis like to cut out the pi (3.14…) symbol in the middle). Rub some water around the edges of the bottom pie shell so when you put the top on it’ll help them stick together. Press the edges of the pie together with a fork or with your thumb and then trim off the extra dough with a knife to make it pretty.
- Bake until the crust turns golden brown and starts shimmering. It usually takes about 30 minutes.
Note: Morro and Jasp’s pie filling of choice (and the original filling used in Go Bake Yourself) is strawberry rhubarb. Its recipe is also featured in Eat Your Heart Out.