Thursday, December 12, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Art Institute of Chicago's "Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine"

From Chicago Reader

How I wish I was planning a trip to Chicago in the near future!  Once there, I would immediately head on over to the Art Institute of Chicago to get a look at one of their current exhibits called "Art and Appetite: American Painting, Culture, and Cuisine".  According to the website, "This exhibition brings together over 100 paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the 18th through the 20th century, along with a selection of period cookbooks, menus, trade cards, and posters, to explore the art and culture of food and examine the many meanings and interpretations of eating in America."  The exhibit opened on November 12th (just in time for Thanksgiving!) and runs through January 27th, 2014 -- perfect timing for the holiday season when food is so much a part of the celebrations.  One room, in fact, is actually devoted to art depicting Thanksgiving.  Here are some examples of the artwork on display:

William J. McKloskey's "Wrapped Oranges" (1889)

Tom Wesselmann's "Still Life #4 (1962)

Raphaelle Peale's "Still Life - Strawberries, Nuts, &c." (1822)
(from NPR)

Wayne Thiebaud's "Salad, Sandwiches, and Dessert" (1960)
(from NPR)

Doris Lee's "Thanksgiving" (1935)

Norman Rockwell's "Freedom from Want" (1942)
(from WBEZ91.5)

Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" (1942)

This is just a taste of the artistic delights in store for all who visit this exhibit.  And as if the art collection is not enough to whet your appetite, there is also an online cookbook available from the museum inspired by the artwork.  Some of the recipes are historical, while others were created by area chefs, but all are intriguing (if not always practical!).  Here is a sample (decapod fans that we are, I naturally had to choose the lobster):

Jan Matulka's untitled still life with lobster (c. 1930)


Poppy Cannon. The Can-Opener Cookbook, 1951
  • You will need:
  • Cooked lobster meat
  • White wine or lemon juice
  • Mustard
  • Condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • Parmesan cheese
To a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, add ¼ can white table wine or ¼ can water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, a pinch of dry mustard or ½ teaspoon prepared mustard. Heat in the top of a double boiler, add 2 to 3 cups lobster meat, cut into good-sized cubes. Place in a shallow buttered casserole or in lobster shells. Sprinkle with cheese and bake in a hot oven, 450°F, 15 minutes or set under the broiler about 5 minutes until cheese melts and slightly browns.
At serving time: Bring to the table bubbling hot and serve from shells or baking dish. Serves 4 to 6.

And here is a more sophisticated lobster recipe from local chef Paul Kahan:


Serves 4–6
For lobster sausage:
  • 2 pounds lobster meat
  • ¾ pound shrimp meat
  • ¾ pound scallop meat
  • 3 ounces lobster roe (purée)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ounce salt
  • 2½ tablespoons porcini powder
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, microplaned
  • 2 teaspoons espelette pepper
  • ¾ cup parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups heavy cream
First chunk all meat in to 1-inch cubes. Then in food processor combine all ingredients except ½ pound lobster and heavy cream; blend until only small chunks remain. Once almost smooth, slowly start adding cream until all is incorporated. Lastly slowly pulse the remaining lobster meat into the sausage mixture, making sure to keep the lobster in small to medium chunks in order to give the sausage some texture. Sausages should be 4 inches long and can be shaped in hog casings or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then poached before grilling. Test the sausage by simmering it in water for 3–5 minutes until cooked through. Taste and adjust seasoning.
To serve:
  • 4 lobster sausages
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 shallots, slivered
  • 2 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 pound porcini mushrooms
  • 12–16 mussels
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ½ pound sea beans, blanched and shocked*
  • 1 lemon for juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon
Turn on grill and bring a medium-sized sauté pan to medium heat. Place the sausages on the grill over indirect heat. While those are cooking, go to the sauté pan. Place a small amount of olive oil in the pan and once hot, throw in your shallots, garlic, and chili flakes, and sweat until translucent; then add mushrooms.
Once the mushrooms start to soak up the oil and get a little caramelized, add the mussels. Give them a stir and add the white wine; cover for 30 seconds to a minute. Uncover and put in the cream, even if the mussels haven't opened yet; they will very soon. Let that cook for another 30 seconds or so. Lastly finish by adding the butter and sea beans. Taste and then add the lemon juice to desired taste. Once the sausages are cooked, place them on a plate and pour the mushroom, sea bean, and mussel mixture over them evenly. Since you will have poached your sausages through, they only need to be warmed through on the grill. Finish with coarsely chopped tarragon and serve immediately. (A grill pan can be used for indoors).
*If, like me, you have no idea what a sea bean is, read a good description here:

From Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

If you happen to be in Chicago before the end of January and feel the need for a visual feast, stop by the Art Institute of Chicago and indulge yourself at the "Art and Appetite" exhibit.  What a delicious way to feed your soul!

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