Renee Erickson’s new cookbook, “Getaway” — subtitled “food & drink to transport you” — seems intentionally perfect for right now, when a year-plus of the COVID-19 pandemic has everybody longing to get away like never before. The book has chapters roaming from Rome to Paris to Normandy to London, then a stop in Baja and finally back home to Seattle, full of recipes — and, helpfully, recipes for cocktails — inspired by each place.
The ethos emphasizes the kind of unfussy but fantastic snacking and drinking done alongside a piazza or under a palapa, starting in the afternoon, because why not? With a few uncomplicated family-style supper plates added in, it all translates into the kind of spring-into-summer, backyard-or-picnic party everybody deserves right now.
“Getaway” also works wonders as the kind of armchair travel book needed now more than ever. Co-author and Seattle food writer Sara Dickerman helped with the vivid, edifying essays on the likes of Roman outdoor markets, sustainability while traveling and “Wine for the people!” The photos, shot on the various gorgeous locations by Jim Henkens, are postcards from dreams of lovely food, new scenery, cold drinks on hot afternoons, different people. And Jeffry Mitchell’s interstitial drawings are pure sunshine.
It’s funny that the timing of “Getaway” is a fluke. All the recipes were completed pre-COVID-19, along with almost all of the writing and art, Erickson says; the past year involved editing and book design, with many phone calls. Meanwhile, the 2016 James Beard Award-winner helmed her Sea Creatures restaurant group — now ranging from flagship The Walrus and the Carpenter through multiple locations of Great State Burger — through a crisis in the industry that no one ever expected to have to try to weather.
There’s so much to entice in the faraway parts of “Getaway”: squash-blossom quesadillas; Castelluccio lentils on toast with fava beans, mint and chèvre; an onion tart with Lancashire cheese; a Calvados and tonic with lemon peel. You might not think you’d be drawn back here, now, by the “Seattle” chapter, but there are chilled marinated mussels with pickled celery and tarragon as a fancy snack to go with a bottle of rosé; or grilled Dungeness crab with fennel butter for a special (and messy) supper; and recipes stretching into summertime, like fig tartines, zucchini fritters with tons of fresh herbs, cocktails with fruit and mint.
Our seemingly endless, involuntary staycation is about to get a lot more fun with some actual sun. We made it! Why not make our own potato chips, too? These come from the Seattle section of “Getaway.” There’s time for another pandemic cooking project, and Erickson says it’s easier than you might think. And if you just want to make the dip, she also fully approves of Tim’s Cascade or good old Lay’s.
Renee Erickson’s Salt and Pepper Potato Chips
Serves 8 to 10. Fresh fried food makes everyone absurdly excited, and for good reason. As much as I love a good bag of chips, a slightly warm chip is just dreamy … Serve with a favorite dip or just with a glass of sparkling wine! — Renee Erickson
1 cup distilled vinegar
6 russet potatoes, skin on
About 8 cups neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed oil, for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, whisk together 8 cups water and the vinegar.
Using a mandoline, slice the potatoes as thinly as possible, placing the slices in the vinegar water as you work. After a while, the screw can loosen on the mandoline, so make sure to keep adjusting the blade to keep the slices translucent. Discard the ends of the potatoes (or save them for another use).
Drain the potatoes. Place a layer of paper towels on a baking sheet, and lay a single layer of potato slices across it. Place another paper towel layer on top, and repeat for about half the potato slices. Use a second baking sheet to layer the second half of the slices with paper towels.
When ready to cook, have a spider strainer or a slotted spoon and a wire cooling rack set atop a baking sheet. In a heavy 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 2 to 3 inches oil to 350 degrees. Carefully drop in a generous handful of potato slices, stirring to separate them. Fry, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remember: This is a long percolating process, not a sudden one.
Remove the chips to the prepared rack, and season with salt and pepper right away. Make sure the oil temperature comes back to 350 degrees, adjusting heat if necessary, before repeating with the next batch. Continue until all the potatoes are fried. These taste best the day they are cooked.
Renee Erickson’s Dill Dip
Serves 6 to 8. You can mix the body of the dip a day in advance, but make sure the dill is freshly chopped and swirled in at the last minute … If you want to make the dish a little fancier, go nuts and spoon some salmon caviar on top. — Renee Erickson
1 cup European-style whole-milk yogurt, such as Straus
1 cup sour cream
1 small garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to garnish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh dill fronds, minced, plus a few whole fronds or flowers, to garnish
Potato chips (make your own, or pick a favorite brand), to serve
In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, sour cream, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Just before serving, fold in the dill. Place in a serving dish, and garnish with olive oil and more dill or dill flowers. This dip will taste best the day it is made.
Renee Erickson’s Clam Dip
Serves 8 to 10
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sour cream
Zest of 1 lemon
4 teaspoons lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Tapatío
2 cans Matiz canned clams, drained with the liquid reserved, gently chopped
1/4 cup minced chives
Potato chips (make your own, or pick a favorite brand) or saltines, to serve
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese with a sturdy whisk until it is soft and fluffy. Whisk in the sour cream, and mix well. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, black pepper and hot sauce. Fold in the clams. Check the texture, and use some clam juice to thin it to a nice dipping consistency, if necessary. Mix in three-quarters of the chives. Taste and add salt if necessary, then refrigerate until ready to serve. The dip can be made a day in advance, but wait to add the chives until the last minute. The dip will firm up a bit in the fridge. Garnish with the rest of the minced chives.