What Artists Cook

Within the comfort of their own kitchens, some artists also looked to food as another creative outlet; as Olafur Eliasson once said, “Cooking, like art, is both reactive and creative—it is about being in flux, navigating and trusting our senses and then connecting and transforming.”

Monet, The Galette

IMAGE > Claude Monet, The Galette, 1882, “Inventing Impressionism" at the National Gallery, London (2015). 

Cook like Monet

Monet’s Chestnut
Cookies recipes


  • ½ cup unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup unsweetened chestnut purée 
  • ¾ cup sugar 
  • 3 eggs, separated 


To prepare, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease 20 cupcake molds. Over low heat melt the butter; add chestnut purée, sugar, and egg yolks (set the whites aside) and stir. Take the pan off the heat. Beat the egg whites to form stiff peaks, and fold them into the mixture. Add the mixture to the molds and bake for 20 minutes or until firm. 

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Frida Kahlo’s
Strawberry Atole


  • 1 ¼ Cups of masa harina 
  • 6 Cups water 
  • 2 Cups strawberries 
  • ¾ Cups brown sugar 

To prepare, dissolve the masa harina in 4 cups of water and let sit for 15 minutes before straining. In another bowl, puree the strawberries with the brown sugar and 2 cups of water, then drain. Mix the masa harina and strawberries in a large saucepan and stir constantly until thick. 

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Cook like Frida Kahlo

Monet, The Galette

IMAGE > Frida Kahlo, The Bride Frightened At Seeing Life Opened, 1943. Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, Mexico City.

Monet, The Galette

IMAGE > Ed Ruscha, The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook: A Collection of Stories with Recipes © 2016, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett, illustrated by Amy Jean Porter, published by powerHouse Books.

Cook like Ruscha

Ed Ruscha’s Cactus Omelette


  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 tbsp. small curd cottage cheese 
  • 2 tbsp. diced celery 
  • 3 tbsp. diced cactus (nopalitos, commonly found in a grocer’s international section) 
  • 1 tbsp. sweet butter 
  • salt 
  • pepper 

For Ruscha’s cactus omelette, whisk eggs in a bowl, heat a pan with butter, and prepare an omelette as you normally would, lifting the edges when they harden and tilting the pan to let the runny layers slide underneath. While the top is still moist, add salt, pepper, and cottage cheese in the center, followed by celery and the nopalitos. Fold in half and let the omelette set for one minute over low heat. “For people who like shaggy dog stories, add little bits of the green cactus on the top of the omelette to make sad or funny faces,” Ruscha says. 

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Monet, The Galette

IMAGE > Artist’s Palate: Ugo Rondinone’s Swiss alpine macaroni. Photography: Baker & Evans.

Cook like
Ugo Rondinone

Ugo Rondinone’s
Swiss alpine macaroni


  • 250g dry elbow macaroni 
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced 
  • 250g bacon 
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and sliced 
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and diced 
  • 1 tbs butter 250ml cream, half and half, whole milk or a mixture of any of these 
  • 1½ tbs cornflour 
  • 3 tbs chopped fresh parsley 
  • 250g cheese, such as Bergkäse, Gruyère, Appenzeller or Emmentale 
  • breadcrumbs, for sprinkling 

Preheat the oven to 190C. 

Boil the macaroni and potatoes separately until al dente. Set aside. Cut the bacon into strips and cook until lightly crisp. Set aside. Sauté the onions and garlic in butter until caramelised and browned. Set aside. 

Mix the cream or milk with cornflour and parsley in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. 

Layer half of the cooked macaroni, potatoes, bacon, onions and cheese in a 2-quart casserole dish, then repeat the layers. 

Pour the milk mixture over the macaroni, sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned. 

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Monet, The Galette

IMAGE > Artist’s Palate: Paula Rego’s lulas guisadas. Source Wallpaper.

Cook like Paula Rego

Paula Rego’s 
Lulas Guisadas


  • Serves 4 to 6 
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 
  • olive oil 
  • 1kg of fresh tomatoes or 2 x 400g cans of tinned tomatoes 
  • 2kg fresh cleaned squid (ask the fishmonger to clean it and wash any gloopy bits at home), chopped into fat rings or strips, with tentacles intact 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped including the stalks 

Simmer the onion gently in the olive oil. This is called refogado in Portuguese and is the start of most recipes. Do it gently until the onion is transparent, but don’t let it brown. 

If you’re using fresh tomatoes, add them to the onions, put a lid on and sweat for a few minutes. Take the lid off, stir and sweat some more, then add a cup of boiling water. 

Add the chopped squid and tentacles, put the lid on and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally and adding water if needed. Keep prodding the squid with a fork to see if it’s cooked. When the fork goes in easily, add the salt and pepper. 

Add the chopped parsley and cook for another 15 mins. The squid should be tender when you poke it. (The squid will get softer the longer you cook it.) 

If you’re using tinned tomatoes, add the squid to the cooked onions first, put the lid on and cook for about 5 mins. Add a cup of water, put the lid back on and simmer, making sure the squid doesn’t burn. The squid will also release its water. After about 20 mins, add the tinned tomatoes and cook for an hour. Prod the squid every now and then to see if it’s cooked. When the fork goes in easily, add the salt, pepper and parsley. 

Serve with plain boiled rice or mashed potato. Both will soak in the squid gravy. 

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