Helen Pashgian’s recipe for summer corn

Try Light and Space artist Helen Pashgian’s characteristically precise recipe for ‘summer corn’, as seen in this month’s Artist’s Palate feature, a Wallpaper* homage to our favourite contemporary art

Glass bowl with corn
Candy dish, £222, by Oswald Haerdtl, for J&L Lobmeyr. Food stylist: Liam Baker; Interiors: Olly Mason
(Image credit: Neil Godwin)

For more than 60 years, Pasadena-based artist Helen Pashgian has toyed with the limits of optical perception and material perfection. A pioneer of California’s Light and Space movement, she is best known for hyper-polished spherical sculptures that trap light and radiate colour. The resulting objects are optically majestic – featured recently in a solo exhibition at Site Santa Fe, and in the seminal show ‘Light & Space’ at Copenhagen Contemporary – and lessons in perception. 

In a major Art Icon profile earlier this year, the artist told us that making art was like a ‘divine itch’ (W*276). For her Artist’s Palate recipe, it was an oven-related design glitch that came between Pashgian and her original idea of meringue. The artist kept us eagerly waiting while she ‘recalibrated her oven’ to fine-tune the recipe. When the oven wouldn’t play ball, the artist herself recalibrated with an innovative summer corn dish that she learnt from her grandmother at age ten – it’s quick, easy, and sharpened with a kick of jalapeño jack cheese. ‘This works great for a barbecue. The quick cooking retains the flavour of the fresh corn,’ she says of the dish, which falls ‘somewhere between eating a corn soufflé and corn on the cob’.

Helen Pashgian’s recipe for summer corn (serves 4)

4 white corn cobs
3-4 tbsp butter 
3-4 tbsp cream 
grated cheese, such as sharp cheddar or jack (I prefer jalapeño jack from Trader Joe’s, which gives it a slight kick)
salt and pepper, to taste


With a sharp paring knife, scrape down the corn cobs to remove the kernels and add them to the top of a double boiler set over a pot of simmering water. Add the other ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted and totally absorbed into the mixture. Serve in small bowls.


A version of this article appears in the October 2022 Legends Issue of Wallpaper*, available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today


Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.

With contributions from