Cooking for my Collaborators by Laura Wilson

Cooking for my Collaborators by Laura Wilson

Over the last few years, I have been developing work around bread production and recipes, investigating how the body learns, adapts, responds and performs. I am interested in how information is carried and evolved through everyday materials, how we learn through doing. This has involved working alongside various specialists to develop sculptural and performative works.

For my Kitchen Takeover I cooked a series of recipes given to me by people who I’ve worked with through my practice and I’m now going to share the recipes with you here. A huge thank you to Martha Brown, Lily Marsh, Una Kerr and Mark Knight who shared their favourite recipes with me. Thank you to my Dad who asked me to make a recipe for him the following weekend.

Note: All recipes are for 3-4 people, and the Parkin will serve approximately 20 people.

Huevos Rancheros with Sourdough toast for Martha Brown, Baker and Owner Forge Bakehouse.

Laura Wilson, Fold and Stretch (2016) Commissioned by Site Gallery. Photo: Jules Lister.

Ilearnt how to bake bread through my residency at Site Gallery, Sheffield in 2016 where I worked with Martha Brown, Baker & Owner Forge Bakehouse and Lucy Suggate, Choreographer to develop Fold and Stretch – a performance inspired by how your body moves when you bake bread. By working alongside Martha during her bake shifts over the course of a month, I observed the movements of the bakery, in order to really get to know the ingredients, to understand the bakers’ craft and familiarise myself with dough. I then worked with Lucy in the gallery to incorporate these movements into the final performance work. 

I ate Martha’s delicious Huevos Rancheros many times during my stay in Sheffield. Here I am serving it with freshly baked Sourdough toast made with my own starter (also known as ‘Steve’), which is originally from Forge Bakehouse.


Photo: Laura Wilson

1 ½ tbsp olive oil 
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced 
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
1 tsp Maldon sea salt 
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced 
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and finely sliced 
100g cherry tomatoes 
1 tbsp chipotles in adobo sauce, finely chopped (I couldn’t find this ingredient, so instead I used more smoked paprika and finely chopped a fresh red chilli)
1/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika 
1 tsp oregano 
Half a lime, juice and zest 
600g passata or blended plum tomatoes (1½ cans) (I used just one can tomatoes and crushed them with my hand instead of blending)
10g fresh coriander, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish 
A handful of chopped chorizo (optional
Two eggs per person
A handful of grated cheese (optional
Sourdough toast, to serve

– Preheat the oven to 210°C. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over low-medium heat. 
– Add the onion, garlic & salt, and sweat until translucent. Add the peppers and continue to cook on a medium heat until slightly softened. Add the cherry tomatoes, chipotle, sweet smoked paprika, oregano and lime zest and juice, and cook for around 5 minutes. 
– Add the tomatoes and simmer gently until the peppers are tender. Check and adjust the seasoning to taste. Throw in the fresh coriander and remove from the heat. 
– While hot, spoon the rancheros mixture into individual oven dishes or one large baking dish. 
– If you are adding chorizo, sprinkle small pieces into the sauce at this stage. Make wells in the sauce, and crack eggs into each well (two eggs per person). Sprinkle grated cheese on top, if using. 
– Bake the eggs in the preheated oven at around 10-12 minutes, until they are just set. 
– Top with another sprinkle of fresh coriander and serve with buttered sourdough toast.

Photo: Laura Wilson

Parkin for Lily Marsh, Stonemason

Laura Wilson, Folds, 2017. Commissioned by SPACE. Photo: Tim Bowditch

Lily Marsh and I worked together during Folds my 2017 commission at SPACE, London.

Folds opened with a torso-sized piece of Bath Stone on a custom-built workbench and a mass of fresh bread dough draped over wooden armatures. Every Saturday over twelve weeks I worked as an apprentice alongside two London-based stonemasons, Nancy Peskett and Lily Marsh, to translate the textures and folds of the dough into the stone. As the weeks went by the soft dough hardened and decomposed and its form emerged from the rigid block of stone. 

This recipe was given to Lily by her mother-in-law, who adapted it from a Delia Smith recipe she found – changing ingredients and quantities. I wasn’t able to find all the ingredients in Lily’s recipe so I added a mixture of Black Strap Molasses and Barley Malt Extract, instead of treacle.

Photo: Laura Wilson


175g golden syrup
100g black treacle
120 g unsalted butter
120 g dark brown soft sugar
225 g oatmeal
125 g self raising flour
2 tsp ground ginger 
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk

– Preheat the oven to 140°C. Delia recommends weighing your saucepan and then weighing the syrup/treacle into the pan. Remember to have weighed your butter first if you are using this method 😉
– Put the syrup, butter and sugar into a heavy-based pan and heat gently till the butter is melted and the sugar starts to dissolve.
– Measure the oatmeal, flour and dried ginger into a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt. Add in the beaten egg and then the milk and mix until everything is combined.
– Line your tin with silicone or baking paper and pour in the mixture carefully.
– Bake for an hour and a half. When the Parkin starts to darken in colour, remove it from the oven but allow the mixture to cool in the tin for 30 minutes.
– Turn out and leave to cool completely before cutting into thick slices and storing in an airtight tin. It needs to mature for around a week to reach its full ‘stickiness’

Photo: Laura Wilson

Courgette and Lentil Soup with Trained on Veda for Una Kerr

Laura Wilson, Trained on Veda, 2016-ongoing

Trained on Veda is a malted loaf and evolving artwork connecting bakeries and galleries through veda bread. Veda bread is a dark brown malted loaf once popular across the UK in the early part of the 20th Century (for its long shelf life and digestive qualities) it is now only available in Northern Ireland. 

On 30 August 2016 I purchased the dormant company, Veda Bakeries Ltd along with the archive of the early history of Veda bread, from James Kerr.  My hope in doing this was to revisit the history of the bread and test out recipes to ultimately produce a malted loaf inspired by this research and distribute it to a network of bakeries and galleries across mainland UK.

Over the last few years I have developed a version of the bread with Marc Darvell a baker in London, we are now sharing our recipe through a network of local bakeries and galleries across the UK.

This recipe was given to me by James Kerr’s wife Una, when I first met them in 2013 after having lunch in their garden where she served me this soup. It is accompanied here with my version of veda bread developed through the project.

Trained on Veda was initiated during my residency at Delfina Foundation in 2016 and is developed with TACO, Grand Union, Site Gallery, MIMA and Supported by Arts Council England.

Photo: Laura Wilson


175g yellow split peas (lentils)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp sunflower oil
2 medium courgettes, finely chopped or grated
1.5 pints chicken stock
0.5 tsp ground turmeric
Salt & pepper to taste

– Cook the onion in the oil in a covered pan, until soft and translucent. 
– Add the grated courgettes to the pan, stirring for two or three minutes. 
– Now add the stock, lentils and turmeric and bring to the boil. 
– Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender. 
– Season to taste. 

Photo: Laura Wilson

Aubergine and Lemon Risotto for Mark Knight, Archaeologist 

 Mark Knight introducing Laura Wilson to Must Farm in September 2018.
Photo: Lizzie Middleton

Mark Knight and I have been working together for the last two years on my New Geographies commission with Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.

Since June 2018 I have been exploring Must Farm, an exceptionally well-preserved settlement dating to the end of the Bronze Age (c. 850BC) located on the edge of a working brick quarry managed by Forterra. The site, often referred to as the UK’s Pompeii reveals many important discoveries about how people lived and worked. I have worked closely with Mark and his team at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, to explore this and other discoveries, opening up questions around labour, trade and everyday life. 

The research has resulted in two new pieces of work, the performance Deep, Deepen, Deepening (2019) presented within Must Farm quarry last October and Deepening (2020) a new film work presented at Norwich Castle.

This is one of Mark’s favourite recipes to cook, by Ottolenghi and originally published in 2008 in The Guardian. 

Photo: Laura Wilson

2 medium aubergines
170ml olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g risotto rice
120ml white wine
750ml hot vegetable stock
2 tbsp lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
20g butter
Coarse sea salt and black pepper
50g Parmesan (or other mature hard cheese), grated
10g basil leaves, shredded

– Preheat the oven grill to high. Place one aubergine on a tray and grill for about an hour, turning occasionally, until the flesh inside is cooked through. 
– Meanwhile, you can make your vegetable stock (cover some aromatic vegetables and herbs – carrot, celery, onion, bay, parsley, garlic, fennel, thyme, etc. – with water, add a pinch of salt, simmer for 20-30 minutes and strain). 
– Remove the aubergine from the oven and scoop out the soft flesh roughly and set aside.
– Cut the second aubergine into 1.5cm cubes. Heat 120ml olive oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine in batches until golden and crisp. Transfer to a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave to cool.
– Heat the remaining oil in a heavy-based pan, then fry the onion slowly. When soft and translucent (delete: and cooked), add the crushed garlic and cook for three minutes more. Turn up the heat, add the rice, stir to coat it in the oil and cook for two to three minutes. Add the wine (it should hiss) and cook for two to three minutes more, until it all but evaporates. Turn down the heat to medium.
– Add a ladle of hot stock to the rice, then stir until it is absorbed, then repeat, stirring until all the stock has been used up – this will take 10-15 minutes.
– Remove the pot from the heat, add the lemon juice, half the zest, the aubergine pulp, butter and half a teaspoon of salt. Stir, cover and leave for five minutes. Taste and add more salt if you like and some black pepper.
– To serve, spoon the risotto into bowls or plates and sprinkle with the diced aubergine, Parmesan, basil and the rest of the lemon zest.

Photo: Laura Wilson

Chinese Chicken Curry with Fried Rice for Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Photo: Laura Wilson

Following my Open Space Kitchen Takeover my Dad asked me if I’d make him Chinese Chicken Curry with Fried Rice, so the next weekend I cooked it along with the rest of my family via Zoom. Here is a picture of my Dad in 2014, taken the day before we climbed Africa’s highest mountain together.

4 skinned boneless chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp vegetable oil 
1 onion chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp chinese 5 spice powder
400 ml chicken stock
2 potatoes medium 
1 chopped red pepper 
150g sugar snap peas (I didn’t have peas so used broccoli)
salt to taste
chopped coriander for serving

For the rice
250g long grain rice (pre-cooked)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion diced
4 eggs beaten
2 finely chopped spring onion

– I couldn’t find skinned boneless chicken thighs, so first I removed the bones and skin and boiled for a couple of hours in water with a stick of celery, carrot, pepper and a bay leaf to make the stock which I will use in the recipe.
– Mix the soy sauce with cornstarch, then add chicken pieces and set aside. 
– Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a deep frying pan, add the chopped onions and ginger, and soften for 5 minutes, then add minced garlic and cook for a few seconds. 
– Then add the curry powder, turmeric and the 5 spice powder. Add the chicken and cook it for a few minutes, so the chicken is sealed but not cooked all the way through. Add the chicken stock and deglaze the pan by scraping up the bits stuck to the bottom of it with a wooden spatula. Then add potatoes and bring everything to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. 
– While this is simmering we can make the egg-fried rice. Heat a large frying pan with oil and gently fry the diced onion until lightly browned, then add the pre-cooked rice to the pan and stir for about 3 minutes. Move the rice and onions to one side of the pan, then add the egg mixture, leave to cook for a moment or so, and then stir it into the rice to coat it. Once the egg has cooked, stir through the chopped spring onion, remove from heat.
– Returning to the chicken, add the red pepper and broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season to taste and serve with the rice.

Photo: Laura Wilson

Laura Wilson (b. 1983, Northern IR)  lives & works in London. She is interested in how history is carried and evolved through everyday materials, trades and craftsmanship. She works with specialists to develop sculptural and performative works that amplify therelationship between materiality, memory and tacit knowledge. Recent exhibitions took place at: Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery (2020); V&A, London; Nicoletti Contemporary, London; and Bloomsbury Theatre, London (2019) and The British Museum, London, UK with Block Universe (2018). Her project Trained on Veda, a malted loaf and evolving artwork was initiated during her residency at Delfina Foundation in 2016 is currently being developed in partnership with TACO, Grand Union, Site Gallery and MIMA, supported by Arts Council England.