Articles

What the Art World Is Cooking

This week, art critic Christopher Knight makes sweet pepper nachos, Hyperallergic editor Dessane Lopez Cassell shares her watermelon poke bowls, and more.

The Townley Discobolus, a copy of the Discobolus of Myron residing in the British Museum, has taken to making pancakes for dinner lately (edit by Valentina Di Liscia)

I don’t know about you, but I’m in the “breakfast for dinner” stage of  quarantine. The feeling that we are living in a time warp, where the days blend into each other and morning and night are indistinguishable, is only exacerbating my desire to eat pancakes at any time of the day (which, truth be told, was a yearning long present pre-pandemic).

In this week’s edition of “What the Art World Is Cooking,” where artists and art workers share the recipes they’re turning to, there are meals you can dedicate an afternoon to and meals you can make in minutes, because sometimes, especially now, things need to be easy and simple and delicious. Critic Christopher Knight likes to roast fruits seasoned with some brown sugar or maple syrup, “like a pie without the crust.” Mrs. Gallery’s Sara Maria Salamone, who teaches us to make gluten-free pasta, says she’s still working full-time, “so I don’t have an extensive amount of time to devote to birthing a sourdough bread.” (Amen.) Curator Elisabeth Sherman shares a dish that you can make “while your mom FaceTime babysits your one-year-old in his highchair as you try and answer work e-mails.”

Rosario Güiraldes, assistant curator at the Drawing Center, beautifully encapsulates the alchemy of the kitchen, where magic can happen in a matter of moments. “A lot of the work that I do every day as a curator involves a kind of cooking, metaphorically speaking, but that kind of intellectual cooking takes a lot of time,” she says. “What I love about cooking, on the other hand, is the feeling that I can accomplish a full task, from beginning to end, within only an hour or two.”

Read Güiraldes’s recipe for roasted chicken and vegetables, and others, below.

Rosario Güiraldes, Curator: Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

“Cooking, to me, means nourishing myself and those I love,” says Güiraldes.

“I began cooking for myself six years ago when I moved to upstate New York from Buenos Aires to attend grad school. Unlike the generalized feeling of uncertainty and the anxieties I often experienced as a student, the kitchen was a place of assertion and distraction.

Cooking, to me, means nourishing myself and those I love, drifting off and giving into the bliss of following simple rules until completion. A lot of the work that I do every day as a curator involves a kind of cooking, metaphorically speaking, but that kind of intellectual cooking takes a lot of time. What I love about cooking, on the other hand, is the feeling that I can accomplish a full task, from beginning to end, within only an hour or two.

My cooking routine hasn’t changed a lot during quarantine. I often cook in batches every Sunday evening and then I eat the same food, or a version of it, every midday at the office, which is now my studio apartment. At night I eat a salad, sautéed vegetables, or a cup of dried pasta with a sauce of fresh tomato, basil, and onions.

Chicken ingredients:

1 whole organic chicken, giblets removed
2 lemons, juiced
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, mashed into a puree-like texture with sea salt
4 carrots, thinly sliced
1 large green squash, thinly sliced
3 ribs of celery, thinly sliced

A handful of parsley, coarsely chopped
A handful of fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Mustard
Olive oil

Bring the chicken to room temperature, cover it with Kosher salt, lemon juice, and freshly ground pepper. Let it soak for a couple of hours (if I’m cooking in the evening, I carry out this step at noon).

Preheat oven to 420 °F.

Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the handful of thyme, garlic puree, and celery. Brush the outside of the chicken with mustard and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the onions, carrots, and squash in a pyrex, roasting pan or dutch oven. Toss with salt, pepper, thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the pyrex and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for an hour and a half or until there’s no juices when you make a cut on the chicken. Remove from heat and baste with drippings. Cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest about 30 minutes before serving (to me, everything tastes better the day after).

Tomato, basil, and avocado salad ingredients:

1 small tomato, thinly sliced
1 handful of fresh basil
1/2 medium avocado, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

Combine the tomato, basil, and avocado in a small bowl, season with the lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.”

Christopher Knight, Art Critic: Sweet Pepper Nachos

Christopher Knight’s stuffed peppers

“I’m a big fan of roasting vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, etc., plain or seasoned with salt, pepper and assorted spices) and fruits (peaches, blueberries, etc., seasoned with some brown sugar or maple syrup — like pie without the crust). Similarly, I’ve made Sweet Pepper Nachos a staple.

Ingredients:

Six red, yellow, and orange peppers
1lb lean ground beef, turkey, pork, or a plant-based meat subsittute
1 package of taco mix
3/4 cup black beans
3/4 cup corn
Shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese
Salsa and sour cream, for serving

Quarter and de-vein six red, yellow, and orange peppers. Brown one pound of lean ground beef, turkey, pork, or plant-based substitute, add one package of taco mix in a half-cup of water, three quarters cup black beans, three quarters cup corn until heated through. Lay out the quartered peppers on a greased cookie sheet and fill each cup with the mixture. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese and bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with salsa and sour cream. Simple.”

Dessane Lopez Cassell, Reviews Editor at Hyperallergic: Sweet and Spicy Watermelon Poke Bowls 

If, like Dessane, you bought a whole watermelon for this recipe and need to use it up, she’s got a quick watermelon cocktail idea for you.

“This week I went to the supermarket on a mission. With the sun out and the temperature finally staying consistently over 50 degrees in Brooklyn, I bought the biggest watermelon I could carry to officially welcome summer. One of my favorite recipes for warmer weather is this super simple watermelon poke, adapted from this recipe from the vegetarian blog Love & Lemons. It’s light and refreshing, and coincidentally vegan, so it’s also sure to be a palate pleaser for a range of eaters in your household. (To make this gluten free, skip the rice and use tamari instead of soy sauce.)

For my version, I’ve pared down some of the ingredients and swapped a few of the others to make the dressing spicier and tangier. Modify as you see fit based on your spice tolerance, and bear in mind that the dressing is one you can use for a range of salads, noodle dishes, or even throw into a pan for a tasty stir fry. 

Ingredients:

4 cups cubed watermelon (a half or quarter melon should do if you don’t want to commit to buying a whole one)
1-2 cups white rice, cooked and set aside to cool
2 green onions, washed and sliced thinly up to their ends, toss the roots
1-2 spicy peppers (jalapeños, serrano peppers, or thai chillies all work well, in order of least spicy to most spicy; if you’re sensitive to spice, feel free to skip altogether)
Half of a ripe avocado, sliced thinly, lengthwise

For the dressing:

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped raw ginger
Half a lime, squeezed (lemon also works)
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp chili garlic sauce (if you’re wary of spice, cut down to ½ tsp or skip it altogether)

Optional garnish:

1 tsp sesame seeds 

Start by dividing the rice evenly between two bowls (assuming you want to share). Leave enough room for you to pile a healthy amount of ingredients on top. Do the same with the watermelon and avocado, clustering the sliced fruits in small mounds towards the sides of the bowls, to allow the dressing you’ll add later to seep through and coat the rice. Sprinkle the green onion on top of each bowl, along with the sliced peppers, if using. 

In a separate container, combine the garlic, ginger, citrus juice, soy sauce, and chili garlic paste, if using. Whisk with a fork. Divide evenly among the two bowls, pouring slowly. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy with a cool drink. 

BONUS: If, like me, you bought a whole watermelon and will need to use it up, I’d recommend fixing a quick cocktail. My favorite uses a few cubes of cold or frozen watermelon in place of ice, with a shot of tequila, some soda, and a lime to garnish, producing a drink that’s both refreshing and not too sweet.”

Sara Maria Salamone: Gluten Free Gnocchi with Vegetables

Sara does not have time to “birth a sourdough bread,” but she does make gluten-free, hand-cut pasta.

“Since we’ve had to cook every one of our meals since the stay-at-home order in March, I’ve become a little more inventive in the kitchen during this time. I’m still working full-time, so I don’t have an extensive amount of time to devote to birthing a sourdough bread, but I did become jealous of all the images of hand-cut pasta floating around social media.

My husband is gluten intolerant and we are mostly gluten-free and vegetarian at home, so I wanted to find an easy and somewhat quick way to make our own homemade pasta. My family is Italian and I grew up with my grandparents making manicotti for Thanksgiving and my father making cavatelli for birthdays and special occasions. So it feels pretty natural for me to want to feed myself and my family with what I know as comforting.

Ingredients:

For the gnocchi: 
2 cups gluten free flour (I’ve used both King Arthur and Cup 4 Cup brands)
2 potatoes
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the vegetables:
Approximately 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tablespoons of butter
1/3 cup white wine
1 medium sized onion
4 cloves of garlic, sliced or minced, your choice
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
6 baby portobello mushrooms, sliced (really, whatever vegetables you have in the fridge that sound good to you will work. In this case, I had mushrooms and broccoli)
Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to top

To make the gnocchi, bring a pot of water to boil, enough for the potatoes to be submerged thoroughly. Make sure to salt your water to taste like the sea. Peel potatoes, if preferred. I actually like to keep the skin on. Cook potatoes until tender, but not too mushy, so that you can poke them with a fork easily. This should be about 15 minutes. Drain, cool, and mash with a fork or a potato masher.

Combine one cup of mashed potatoes with flour, salt, and eggs in a large bowl. Knead until a smooth dough forms. You may need a little extra flour here if the dough is too sticky. If you find it a little too dry, add one tablespoon of water at a time until smooth. Make a mound shape out of the dough and divide into four quarters. Roll each of these sections into long snakes. On a floured surface, cut snakes into half-inch pieces. Using the back of a fork, roll each bit of dough over the fork tines to make ridges in your gnocchi (this is what holds your flavor to your pasta!)

Boil a large pot of lightly salted water. Drop in gnocchi and cook for about four to six minutes, until the gnocchi have risen to the top. Drain, but retain about one fourth of water to add to the sauce.

For the vegetable “sauce,” sauté onion with olive oil and butter, about 10 minutes, or until onion is translucent.

While you’re rolling your gnocchi on a fork, add broccoli, garlic, mushrooms, and white wine to your pan and cover to steam on low. About eight to 12 minutes, so broccoli is still crisp and bright green. Salt to taste.

Combine vegetables with a fourth starch water and gnocchi, toss, and serve with shaved parmesan.”

Elisabeth Sherman, Curator: Mom’s Chili 

You can make this ahead, freeze it, and reheat it, or you can make it half an hour before dinner “while your mom FaceTime babysits your one-year-old in his highchair as you try and answer work e-mails.” (photo by Elisabeth Sherman)

“The earliest mention of this dish I have in my email archives is from 13 years ago, when I first asked my mom for the recipe while I was living in London and wanted to make it for my roommate. I’ve since forwarded it countless times, adding my own addenda along the way. This began as a recipe in some long-forgotten cookbook and became a working parent weeknight staple in my own house growing up. It’s fast if you want it to be, or you can forget it on the stove for a while. You can make it ahead, freeze and reheat it or, if you’re like me right now, you can make it a half an hour before dinner with help from your toddler while your mom — now known as Bubbe — FaceTime babysits your one-year-old in his highchair as you still try and answer work emails. It’s foolproof, made from only the most basic pantry ingredients but, most importantly for me right now, it tastes like home.

Ingredients:

Oil (any kind will do, I use olive)
One chopped onion (anything you have on hand)
One pound of ground meat (I do chicken)
Pepper/salt
Chili powder
Canned tomatoes (one 28-oz can)
Can of kidney beans (one 14-oz can)
Rice

I sauté the onions until soft/translucent and then add the ground meat while gently adding some of the spices. As it continues to sauté, I again gently add some spices. Once it appears that it is about half way cooked through I add the tomatoes (cut them in half or so with your spoon to release their liquid) and again a small amount of the spices. Cover the lid, simmer for about half an hour and then add the beans (without their liquid) and again a small amount of spices; cook for about another 15 minutes. Serve over rice.

Notes:

  • To cut down on time, once you add the beans it can be ready really in five minutes or so, or you can also add the beans when you add the tomatoes. The simmering time is pretty flexible, so I’ll either leave it going on very low for a while, or cut the time down to be ready as soon as I need it.
  • If you use beef you are going to have to cook for a bit longer at each step because beef takes a bit longer to cook through. It will also release its own liquid so add less of the tomato liquid and the oil. (This is an original note from my mom. I can’t vouch for it, since I’ve never made it this way.)”
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