Beet borscht soup, left, and a detail shot of Pollock’s studio floor in Springs, New York, photographed by Robyn Lea, from Dinner with Jackson Pollock
Pea salad with Russian dressing, left, and Pollock’s studio floor in Springs, New York, photographed by Robyn Lea, from Dinner with Jackson Pollock
Creamy lobster stew, left, and chalk from Jackson’s studio, photographed by Robyn Lea, from Dinner with Jackson Pollock
As Dinner with Jackson Pollock (Assouline) shows, the abstract expressionist icon was as much an artist in the kitchen as in the studio. The beautifully illustrated book, complete with his artwork and intimate family photos, features a host of recipes from Pollock, his wife Lee and his mother Stella, culled from the family archives. Here, three of our favorites.
A favorite recipe of Pollock and his wife, this beet-soup recipe comes from a small cookbook that came with the purchase of a Waring blender in the late Forties. Serves 4.
1 lb raw beets
1 cup beef broth
1⁄2 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
1⁄2 lemon, juice and zest
1⁄2 tsp salt
2 pinches freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup dill and/or chives, finely chopped, for garnish
Wash and scrub beets thoroughly, then place in a saucepan and cover with lightly salted cold water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cook until tender, about 40 minutes depending on the size of the beets. Allow to cool, then strain and reserve liquid. Peel then chop beets into quarters, then place them in a blender with 1 cup reserved beet liquid, beef broth, sour cream, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper; blend until smooth. Garnish with a swirl of sour cream and sprinkle with finely chopped dill and/or chives. Serve warm or cold.
Creamy Lobster Stew
Lobster was a favorite of Jackson’s and this particular recipe takes after a dish prepared for the artist by friends John and Cynthia Cole in 1953.
20 oz lobster meat, from two medium-size cooked lobsters
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, washed and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, washed and roughly chopped
1 small fennel bulb, washed and roughly chopped
1⁄2 bunch of parsley, washed
5 tbsp butter
11⁄2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1⁄3 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper
Fresh tarragon leaves, dill or chives, for garnish
Crusty toasted bread or garlic croutons, for serving
Crack open 2 cooked lobsters, remove all the meat from the shells, chop meat into small pieces, and set aside. Place all the cleaned shells in a large stockpot along with the chopped carrot, leek, celery, fennel and parsley and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 hours. Strain through a fine sieve and set aside, discarding the shells and vegetables. Yields about 2 cups of lobster broth.
In a large, heavy-bottom pot, melt 4 tbsp butter over high heat, add lobster meat, and stir about 2 minutes. Slowly add the cream, milk and reserved lobster broth. Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes, add white wine, salt and pepper. Heat until tiny bubbles form, then cool overnight. The following day, a short time before serving, heat the stew slowly in a double boiler for 15 minutes, stirring gently and being careful not to boil. Add the remaining 1 tbsp butter and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with fresh herbs such as tarragon, dill or finely chopped chives, and serve with crusty toasted bread or garlic croutons.
Pea Salad with Russian Dressing
This recipe comes from Pollock’s own mother, Stella, which she kept in a red faux-leather book together with other handwritten recipes and newspaper and magazine clippings. Serves 2 to 4.
For the Salad
2 cups fresh baby spring peas, shelled
1⁄2 cup American cheese, cut into small chunks
3 tsp onion, finely chopped
3 tsp sweet pickles, such as bread-and-butter, finely chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage, if desired
For the Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
4 tbsp chili sauce
1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp red onion, very finely chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 dill pickles, chopped
Salt and pepper
This salad may be combined all together in a large bowl before serving, or the elements layered individually onto the plates before adding small dollops of dressing. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.