The Phaidon Folio

Celebrate Thanksgiving the Ólafur Elíasson Way: 7 Mouthwatering Recipes Straight From His Studio

Celebrate Thanksgiving the Ólafur Elíasson Way: 7 Mouthwatering Recipes Straight From His Studio
Olafur Elîasson. Photo: Heike Göttert

Each day, the renowned Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Elíasson—best known for his environmentally conscious work in the realms of installation, sculpture, photography, film, and other built environments—brings his studio together for an all-vegetarian, local, organic, and communal lunch to fuel their creative process. Phiadon’s Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen chronicles more than 100 recipes developed over the past 10 years, by the craftsmen, architects, and art historians that make up his studio, along with acclaimed collaborators like René Redzepi and Alice Waters.

Looking for some last-minute Thanksgiving inspiration? Here, we’ve chosen a few of our favorite recipes to bring the spirit of collaboration, experimentation, and creative inspiration from Olafur Eliasson and his studio to your family's table.

Creamy Pink Root Soup with Roasted Kholrabi (Serves 6 or 60)

creamy pink root soup

scant 1/2 cup (100 ml) | 2 1/2 cups (600 ml) olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 medium | 9 lb (4 kg) onions, diced
2 cloves | 1 head garlic, sliced
4 stalks | 4 heads celery, diced
1 large | 4 1/2 lb (2 kg) red pepper/s, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 TB (50 ml) | generous 2 cups (500 ml) white wine
8 medium | 13 lb (6 kg) beets, peeled and sliced
7 oz (200 g) | 4 1/2 lb (2 kg) potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 medium | 6 lb 11 oz (3 kg) carrots, sliced
3 1/2 oz (100 g) | 2 1/4 lb (1 kg) brown rice
2 | 10 bay leaves
6 1/4 cups (1.5 liters) | 4 gallons (15 liters) Vegetable Stock or water
2 medium | 6 lb 11 oz (3 kg) kohlrabi or daikon, peeled
toasted pumpkin seedsand diced
roasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan and gently cook the onions over medium heat until they are golden. Add the garlic, celery, red peppers, and a pinch of salt and continue to cook until soft, stirring to combine the flavors. Add the wine and cook until evaporated. Add the beets, potatoes, carrots, brown rice, bay leaves, and some salt. Cover with the stock or water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 40 minutes, until the vegetables are done. While the soup is cooking, cook the kohlrabi until tender and set aside. Turn off the heat, and after the soup has cooled slightly, blend. Add the kohlrabi, taste for salt, and season with pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds on top. (Alternatively, you can serve the soup with sour cream or crème fraïche and chopped parsley.)

Tomato Soup with Cumin and Figs (Serves 6 or 60)

tomato soup

scant ½ cup (100 ml) | 1 ¾ pints (1 liter) olive oil
2 medium | 5 ½ lb (2.5 kg) onions, chopped
¾ cup (200 ml) | 1 bottle (750 ml) white wine
1 large | 4 ½ lb (2 kg) red bell pepper/s, chopped
1 | 10 TB cumin seeds, lightly roasted and crushed
2 | 15 cans (14 oz/400 g each) tomatoes
5 oz (150 g) | 3 ¼ lb (1.5 kg) dried figs, chopped
2 ¼ lb (1 kg) | 22 lb (10 kg) fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 or 6 large | 5 ½ lb (2 kg) fresh figs, finely diced

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Cook the onion with a good pinch of salt over medium heat. Add the wine and cook until evaporated. Add the red peppers and continue cooking until softened. Stir in the cumin, then add the canned tomatoes and dried figs and let simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. When the mixture has reduced, put in the fresh tomatoes and increase the heat slightly, simmering for 15 minutes. Blend until smooth, adding olive oil and water, as necessary, until creamy. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve with the fresh figs sprinkled on top.

Savory Scones (Makes about 15 scones)

Savory scones

3 ¾ cups (450 g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
4 tsp baking powder (sodium bicarbonate)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard
⅔ cup (150 ml) milk
⅔ cup (150 g) cold butter, cubed
7 oz (200 g) parmesan or other strong hard cheese, finely grated, or feta, crumbled
4 TB fresh herbs or scallions (spring onions), chopped
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400ºF/ 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, mix the mustard into the milk. Add the butter to the flour and massage it lightly with your fingers until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the cheese and the herbs or scallions and mix. Carefully pour the milk into the flour mixture, stirring together first with a fork and then by hand to make a soft but firm dough, being sure not to overwork it.

Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough into a circle about 1 inch (2 cm) thick. Using a knife, cut the circle into quarters and then into quarters again, to make eight triangles. Alternatively, a round biscuit cutter can be used.

Place the dough on a lined baking sheet (tray). Beat the egg and brush on the scones with a pastry brush. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Best eaten warm!

Potato Croquettes (Serves 6 or 60)

Potato croquettesPotato Croquettes with vegetables and Pickled Eggs, a "Lunch Box" from Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen

8 large | 11 lb (5 kg) potatoes
2 TB | 18 TB (250 g) butter
1 | 8 large onion/s, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 TB | 1 ⅔ cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
1 | 8 egg/s, whisked
3 TB | 14 oz (400 g) bread crumbs
2 ¼ cups (500 ml) | 3 ½ pints (2 liters) oil, for frying

Place the potatoes in cold water, bring to a boil, and cook until softened. Drain, peel off the skin while they are still hot, and mash.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom pan and gently fry the onions until caramelized. Mix together the onions with the potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste. Form 2-inch (5 cm) small balls. Turn them first in the flour, then in the eggs with a little water, and finally in the bread crumbs.

Pour the oil into a big saucepan to at least 2 3/4 inches (7 cm) deep and heat to between 180 and 350ºF/185ºC. Slip the croquettes, one at a time, into the hot oil. Fry until they are cooked on the inside and fox-colored brown on the outside, turning when necessary with a slotted spoon. Transfer onto paper towels to drain and serve immediately or keep warm for up to 30 minutes, uncovered, in an oven preheated to 200ºF/100ºC. Repeat the process with the remaining balls.

Brussels Sprouts with Baked Ricotta (Serves 6 or 60)

Brussels sproutsBrussels Sprouts with Baked Ricotta, Mixed Rice, and Baked Chicory, recipes also available in Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen

1 lb 2 oz (500 g) | 11 lb (5 kg) Brussels sprouts, trimmed
9 oz (250 g) | 6 lb 11 oz (3 kg) ricotta
olive oil, for drizzling
1 | 10 small dried red chile/s
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ | 5 TB thyme

Preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC/Gas Mark 7. Boil the Brussels sprouts in salted water for 8 minutes and set aside. Line a baking sheet (tray) with parchment (baking) paper and place the ricotta on it. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until lightly browned. Take the ricotta out of the oven, crush down with a fork, and sprinkle with olive oil, chiles, salt, and pepper. Place back into the oven and mix from time to time with a fork. Put the Brussels sprouts in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, thyme, and salt and bake for 30 minutes until golden. Gently mix the sprouts with the ricotta and sprinkle with pepper.

Flan with Caramel Sauce (Serves 6)

Flan with caramel sauce

For the caramel sauce:

2 cups (400 g)  sugar
a pinch salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water
⅔ cup (160 ml) boiling water

For the flan:

butter, for greasing
1 vanilla bean pod
1 3/4 cups plus 2 TB (400 ml) milk
3/4 cup plus 1 TB (200 ml) heavy (double) cream
3 1/2 oz (100 g) sugar
4 eggs
1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC/Gas Mark 4. To make the caramel sauce, place the sugar, salt, and 1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. As the mixture begins to simmer, allow it to turn brown without stirring. Be careful not to let it burn. Add ⅔ cup (160 ml) boiling water and stir. Remove from the heat and strain into the baking dish to cool.

To make the flan, butter the edges of the now-cooled baking dish. Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the beans. Combine the milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla beans in a pan and cook over low heat to melt the sugar. Put the eggs and egg yolk in a bowl and mix well. Slowly add the egg to the milk mixture, stirring constantly. Do not let it boil. Pour the mixture carefully through a sieve into the prepared dish. Place the dish into a high-walled pan filled with water to create a water bath. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Remove the flan from the oven, and its waterbath, and let it cool completely. Gently remove it from the baking dish by first running a knife around the inside edges of the dish, and then placing a serving dish upside down on top of the baking dish and carefully turning it over. The flan tastes even better when prepared in advance and refrigerated overnight.

Carrot Cake (Serves 12)

carrot cake

For one of Olafur’s birthdays, a number of studio members brought in their favorite cake recipes and prepared them in the kitchen. This carrot cake was one of the most popular and remains an all-time favorite.

For the cake:

butter, for greasing
2 ¼ cups (280 g) all-purpose fl our
2 tsp baking powder (sodium bicarbonate)
1 tsp salt
¾ cup (175 ml) sunflower oil (or 10 TB/150 g melted butter)
1 cup plus 2 TB (250 g) brown sugar
3 eggs
4 medium carrots, fi nely grated
7 oz (200 g) fresh pineapple chunks, drained
5 oz (150 g) walnuts, chopped
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 2 packs vanilla sugar)

For the frosting:

14 oz (400 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
3 ½ TB (50 g) butter, melted
⅔–1 cup (75–100 g) powdered (icing) sugar, sifted
2 ¾ oz (70 g) finely shredded coconut (optional)
a little milk or lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Lightly butter a Bundt pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the fl our, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil or butter and the brown sugar. Add the eggs and mix. Add the carrots, pineapple, walnuts, cinnamon, and vanilla and stir to mix. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the baking pan and bake for 50 minutes. Test with a toothpick inserted—it should come out clean when done. Remove from the pan while still warm and let cool on a cake rack or plate. (If making muffins, the baking should take about 30 minutes.)

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer until soft. Slowly add the melted butter while mixing. Add the powdered (icing) sugar slowly, tasting often. When the frosting has reached the desired sweetness, add the coconut and, if needed, milk or lemon juice to achieve the desired spreading consistency. Frost the cake after it has cooled.


Leave out the carrots and pineapple and instead add one of these combinations: 3 large sour apples, cored and thinly sliced | 3 large zucchini, grated, drained, with zest of one lemon | 3 medium bananas, mashed with a fork | 2 small sweet potatoes, steamed and mashed | 1/2 red kuri squash or butternut squash, steamed and mashed, with 1 banana, mashed.



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