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Food on View: Inspiration for Your Thanksgiving Meal

Get some food inspiration from works on view at the High Museum of Art.

By Brittany Mizell, Public Relations Specialist, High Museum of Art

As we near Thanksgiving, I want to touch on a delectable topic surrounding the holiday — food. One can never have enough dishes on the table during the holidays, and here at the High, we’ve got plenty of inspiration to share from on-view pieces. Take a look at the suggested recipes below inspired by some of the beautiful works in our collection.

Cheese Wafers

John F. Francis (American, 1808–1886), Still Life with Bottles, Wine, and Cheese, 1857, oil on canvas, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift of the West Foundation in honor of Gudmund Vigtel, 2010.125.

John F. Francis knew what he was doing by including cheese in Still Life with Bottles, Wine, and Cheese — it’s a perfect hors d’oeuvres option to serve alongside pre-dinner drinks. This recipe comes from our 1992 High Museum Recipe Collection Expanded Edition cookbook, which was graciously loaned by our very own Frances Francis, Senior Registrar. Tippen Harvey, who contributed this recipe, suggests serving these cheese wafers to guests with cocktails.


· 1/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese

· 1 stick butter

· 1/2 teaspoon salt

· Cayenne to taste

· 1 cup cake flour


1. Cream the cheese and butter together with salt and cayenne.

2. Sift in the flour (do not sift beforehand).

3. Form the mixture into a roll about the width of a silver dollar, wrap in wax paper, and chill in the refrigerator.

4. Slice thin and bake until light brown in a moderate oven at 300°F for approximately 30 minutes. These are very easy to overcook, so it is important to watch for the light brown.

Raspberry Cranberry Sauce

William Mason Brown (American, 1828–1898), Red Raspberries on a Forest Floor, ca. 1866, oil on board, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, purchase with American Art Acquisition Fund and funds from Helen and Howard Elkins, Sally and Allen McDaniel, Margaret and Terry Stent, Glenn Verrill, and Joan N. Whitcomb, 2010.10.

If you’re looking for a twist on traditional cranberry sauce, pull some inspiration from William Mason Brown’s Red Raspberries on a Forest Floor and try this raspberry cranberry sauce from Favorite Family Recipes.


· 1 1/3 cups sugar

· 1 cup water

· 3 cups cranberries, fresh, whole, and uncooked

· 1 cup raspberries

· 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract


1. Pour the sugar and water into a large saucepan. Stir together and bring to a boil on high.

2. Add the cranberries and raspberries and return to boiling. Turn the heat down to medium to a low boil and cook for 10 minutes.

3. Place a strainer over a large bowl and pour the sauce into the strainer to catch the berries. Use a wire whisk to mash the berries to desired consistency, and then add them back into the sauce.

4. Stir in the almond (or vanilla) extract, cover the bowl with aluminum foil, and let the sauce cool to room temperature on the counter.

Lobster Mashed Potatoes

Eugène Louis Boudin (French, 1825–1898), Still Life with Lobster on a White Tablecloth, ca. 1853–1856, oil on canvas, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift in memory of Lena B. Jacobs, 70.31.

You’ve probably heard of lobster mac and cheese, but have you heard of lobster mashed potatoes? Eugène Louis Boudin did a phenomenal job of making the lobster in this painting look delicious, and it inspired me to find a pescatarian-friendly recipe. Consider trying this spin on classic mashed potatoes from Cape Porpoise Lobster Co.


· 6–8 lobsters

· 1 stick butter

· 10 potatoes

· Dollop sour cream

· 4–5 cups fresh peas

· Small can evaporated milk

· Salt and pepper to taste


1. Cook the lobster.

2. Pick clean and sauté the lobster meat with butter until the butter is orange. Add evaporated milk.

3. Cook and mash the potatoes, adding sour cream as you mix.

4. Cook the peas.

5. Serve the mashed potatoes topped with the lobster and peas.

Spiced Brown-Butter Apples

Mattie Lou O’Kelley (American, 1908–1997), Untitled (Bowl of Apples), 1975, oil on canvas, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, T. Marshall Hahn Collection, 1997.99.

When I saw Mattie Lou O’Kelley’s still life painting of apples in our Folk and Self-Taught Art galleries, I instantly thought of apple desserts. While we all know and love apple pie, I feel this spiced brown-butter apple recipe from Food & Wine would make a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving platter.


· 6 small Pink Lady (Cripps Pink) apples, halved lengthwise

· 1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing baking dish

· 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

· 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg

· 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice

· 2 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar

· 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

· 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

· 1/3 cup chopped pecans

· Vanilla ice cream or heavy cream, for serving


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Rub 1 tablespoon butter on the bottom and sides of a 13 × 9 inch baking dish.

2. Scoop out and discard core and seeds from each apple half using a melon baller or teaspoon. Slice a very thin sliver from the opposite side of the apple so it lays flat. Arrange the apples, cored sides up, snugly in a prepared baking dish.

3. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and Chinese five spice, and heat until fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Whisk in the brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Spoon the butter mixture evenly into the hollows of the apples. Use the back of a spoon to spread a thin layer onto the cut surfaces of the apples.

4. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven until apples start to soften (30 to 40 minutes). Uncover the dish and scatter pecans over the apples. Baste with juices from the bottom of the pan. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F, and bake the apples until they are nicely browned and very tender (10 to 15 minutes). Serve warm or at room temperature topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of heavy cream.

The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, but we hope you’ll bring your family and friends to visit us the day after Thanksgiving (or another time during the holiday season) to view these pieces in our collection. You can find our hours here. And as we celebrate this Thanksgiving, we hope the Atlanta community knows how grateful we are for your support of and participation in our wide variety of programs and exhibitions. We hope to see you soon!

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