Award-winning American chef Renee Erickson shares three recipes from her new cookbook Getaway, inspired by Paris, Rome and Baja California.
Born and raised in Seattle, chef Renee Erickson made her name creating dishes with a distinctly Pacific Northwest flavour – prompting food magazine Bon Appétit to credit her with making her home city “one of the most exciting places to eat in the [US]”. The co-owner of several acclaimed Seattle restaurants, she is also the author of the bestselling 2015 cookbook A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus, which approached the region’s seafood-heavy culinary traditions with relaxed, stylish flair.
But despite her deep roots on the northwest coast of the US, Erickson is also a keen traveller. “Ever since I lived in Rome as an undergraduate art student, travel has been a key part of my imagination and my identity,” she says.
Her first cookbook drew on French cuisine, while many of her restaurants are heavily influenced by her travels through Europe: “I am always seeking inspiration for menus, for design, and for something less concrete: how to make sure they stay warm, relaxing spaces.”
Now, Erickson has published her second cookbook – and it looks beyond the Pacific Northwest to her favourite foodie destinations around the world. Out now, Getaway: Food & Drink To Transport You bursts with dishes and tips to dazzle home cooks and globetrotters alike, with fantasy-sparking travel recommendations and recipes inspired by Rome, Paris, Normandy, London and Baja California.
In practice, that means recipes for dishes such as lamb chops scottadito (adapted from a dish served at Armando al Pantheon in the Italian capital) and drinks including rosemary palomas (a riff on a cocktail Erickson tried at a beach bar on Mexico’s west coast).
Erickson also shares her tips for everything from buzzy street food markets to chic hidden-gem wine bars, and dives deep into the ingredients and culinary traditions that make each destination unique. (Of course, there’s a chapter on Seattle, too.)
Below, Erickson shares three recipes from Getaway: Paris-inspired halibut with anchovy butter; Rome-style crispy courgettes with parmigiano-reggiano; and black beans with crema, based on the cuisine of Baja California.
In the book’s introduction, Erickson emphasises that you don’t need to leave home to feel transported. “[But] I hope I have captured, in some part, the specialness of these places, and that we may all have the opportunity to visit them again sometime very soon,” she writes. We’ll eat to that.
Paris: halibut with anchovy butter
Renee says: “The flavoured butter here is hard to make in a small quantity, so you will have enough to stash some extra in the freezer. People think a good bit about their pantry, all the canned and jarred and dried things that can make a meal out of nothing, but I hope they don’t forget about their freezer, which can swoop in to save the day when last-minute meals come up.
“Take this dish, which is centred on an irresistible compound butter flavoured with capers, anchovies, and preserved lemon. You could make it the day of cooking, but it’s even more appealing just waiting there for you, ready to embellish a gorgeous hunk of fish that you discover at the market. You’d be ready to make delicious potatoes, root vegetables, or steak with this on hand, too.”
- 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 10 salt-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped into a paste
- 2 tbsp capers, preferably salt-packed, rinsed, soaked for 10 minutes, and drained
- 1 preserved lemon, pith and pulp removed, minced
- 450g halibut fillet (in one large piece; ask your fishmonger to remove the skin for you)
- 3 or 4 sprigs marjoram, snipped into 2.5cm pieces
- 25g slivered garlic scapes, if in season, or one whole peeled garlic clove
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy and soft. Add the anchovies, capers, and preserved lemon. The butter can be made 3 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator or freezer until use.
Heat the oven to 230°C. In a large oven-safe nonreactive skillet, heat half of the anchovy butter over medium-high heat until slightly foamy. Add the halibut top side down and season lightly with salt. Cook undisturbed for 4 minutes.
Flip the halibut, season lightly on the browned side, add another tablespoon of the anchovy butter, and spoon the melted butter atop the fish. Place the marjoram and the garlic scapes in the pan in the butter.
Transfer the pan to the oven. Roast for 4 minutes, or until the fish is no longer translucent at its thickest point. This is delicious right out of the oven but also just as good at room temperature.
Rome: crispy courgettes with parmigiano-reggiano, lemon and mint
Renee says: “This is inspired by the version my mother made with the parmesan that came in a green can. When I first lived in Rome, I had a roommate who hated courgette. But I made this dish with squash from the Campo de’ Fiori market and even she couldn’t resist the chewy cheese crust that coated the courgette. She loved it then and serves it to her kids to this day. It was one of my earliest culinary conversions!
“It’s truly a summer dish – don’t mess around with it until the summer squash are at their peak.”
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 450g courgette, sliced 2cm thick on the bias
- 50g parmigiano-reggiano, ground in a blender
- 1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest, to garnish
- 2 tbsp mint leaves, torn
- crunchy sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to finish
- really spicy olive oil (optional), to finish
Heat a 25 to 30cm heavy iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the olive oil, place the courgette in a single layer, and season with salt.
Reduce the heat to medium and place a little heap of parmigiano onto each slice and cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes.
When the bottom of the rounds are browned, use a slender offset spatula to carefully flip each over. Cook for approximately 4 more minutes, until the cheese has browned and crusted.
Remove the courgette to a serving plate, making sure to scrape up the cheese crusts along with the courgette. Let them cool to room temperature before serving, but after that they are best eaten right away!
Just before serving, grate lemon zest over the courgette. Garnish with mint leaves, crunchy salt, black pepper, and, if you like, a drizzle of really spicy olive oil.
Baja: black beans with coriander, pickled onions and crema
Renee says: “I love bean salads. They feel like the perfect do-ahead food, getting better over time. They are great at room temp, too; in fact, I prefer them this way.
“With beans, it is super important to have enough dressing to give the salad some forceful flavour. Here, the toasted spices help keep this salad bright and interesting over time. Feel free to change the black beans out for your favourite bean, and always double-check the seasoning just before serving, especially if you made the salad earlier in the day.”
- 650g dry black beans, soaked overnight in cold water
- ½ white onion, peeled
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 80ml white wine vinegar
- 1 red onion, cut into 6mm slices
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 60ml olive oil
- juice of 2 small limes, plus more to taste
- 120ml crema or crème fraîche
- 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves and stems, plus flowers if you have them
- crunchy sea salt, to finish
Drain the black beans and place them in a 3- to 4-litre saucepan with the white onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Add enough water to cover the beans by 5cm. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
Cook for 20 minutes, then season with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Continue to cook until the beans are tender but not mushy, 10 to 20 more minutes, depending on the freshness of the beans.
Drain, discard the onion, garlic, and bay leaf, then spread the beans out on a baking sheet and refrigerate to cool.
While the beans are cooking, bring 120ml water, the vinegar, and ½ teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Add the red onion to the vinegar mixture, stir, and turn off the heat. Let cool to room temperature.
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant. Let them cool, then coarsely grind or crush in a mortar and pestle.
In a large bowl, toss the cooled beans with the crushed spices, olive oil, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Season with more salt or lime juice, if desired.
Arrange the bean mixture in a serving dish and spoon the crema in large blobs on top. Drain some of the pickled onions and drape them on top of the crema.
Finish the dish with a sprinkle of coriander and crunchy salt.
Adapted extract from Getaway: Food & Drink To Transport You by Renee Erickson (£30, Abrams), out now
Photography: © 2021 Jim Henkens