As a Midwest girl I was very excited when Chicago blogger Dana from Real Food Rehab sent me an email regarding a collaboration. She very kindly interviewed me for her site and we quickly began to assemble ideas. The Art Institute of Chicago has always been very near and dear to my heart (it houses the painting that began my still life education) and I was delighted when Dana suggested we pick a painting to highlight an upcoming exhibition at the museum. Dana is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and combines a unique viewpoint to the vast food blogsphere. A few of my favorite posts are her pickled asparagus and the review of The Flavor Bible, one of my oft-used cooking resources. Thanks for collaborating with me Dana!

Visit Dana’s blog Real Food Rehab for a rustic apple tart recipe.

Henri Matisse, Apples, 1916, Oil on canvas, 116.9 x 88.9 cm, Art Institute of Chicago
© 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

This Matisse painting is from the current exhibition, Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917, at the Art Institute of Chicago. On view from the 20th of March until the 20th of June, the collection of paintings explores the body of work produced upon his return to Paris from Morocco. The art of this period is thought of as a turning point, the figures and forms became more abstracted and devoid of detail. The painting A Vase with Oranges that was featured on this site in June 2009 was painted in the same year as Apples. There are many similarities between the two canvases including composition and subject. The round fruits sit on/in a round form with a linear support cutting the canvas in half. The brushstrokes in Apples swirl upon the tabletop mimicking the shape of the fruits with the characteristic black outlines of this period containing the blocks of colour.

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 is on view at the Art Institute of Chicago until the 20th of June. Entry is free with the purchase of museum admission.


{Apple & Shallot Croquettes}

adapted from Gourmet

1 c leftover mashed potatoes
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 c dried apple, chopped
1/2 c Béchamel sauce (recipe below)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 TB lemon juice
2 eggs, beaten
2 c breadcrumbs
1 TB dried parsley
vegetable oil for deep frying

Mix the mashed potatoes, shallot, dried apple, ground cumin, lemon juice, béchamel sauce, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Cover and chill the mixture for 30 minutes.

After chilling, form the mixture into small 1-inch balls. Dip in the raw beaten egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Place on a tray covered with wax paper and chill for an additional 30 minutes.  In a saucepan heat the oil over medium-high heat until the surface shimmers. Gently drop 4-6 croquettes into the oil  at a time. Deep-fry for 1-2 minutes turning until golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Serve warm with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Apple & Onion Croquettes

{Béchamel Sauce}

adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

1/2 TB butter
2 1/2 tsp flour
1/2 c milk
salt & pepper

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once melted, using a wooden spoon, blend the flour into the butter stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Keep from colouring to make a white roux.

Meanwhile, warm the milk and once the roux is ready, add it to the saucepan. Turn up the heat to medium and begin whisking vigorously until all of the lumps are removed and the sauce thickens. Let boil for 1 minute while stirring and remove from heat. Season with the salt and pepper to taste.