Holiday Cooking with Ease:
– France –
Provence Beef Casserole
Cooking on self-catering holidays can be a strain, after all, it IS a holiday and sometimes cooking in a strange and unfamiliar kitchen (and country) can be difficult. So, when I was asked by HouseTrip to create some recipes that would be suitable for a family of four on holiday, and that were easy to prepare and cook, I was keen to take up the challenge.
HouseTrip has partnered with me to create these exclusive recipes specifically for families in holiday rentals, and today, my first recipe is from France, Provence Beef Casserole, a tasty but easy dish using local hero ingredients such as Dijon mustard, Herbs de Provence and tomatoes. The recipe can be cooked on top of the hob, or in the oven and is pretty much a “one pot meal” with very little washing up afterwards, which is just what is needed when you are on holiday.
HouseTrip was founded in 2010 by husband and wife team Arnaud Bertrand and Junjun Chen, and is one of the largest holiday rental websites in the world, offering holidaymakers and holiday home-owners a safe and easy-to-use platform to find, book and list holiday apartments, houses and villas securely on-line.
HouseTrip is similar to Airbnb, but originated in Europe and is aimed specifically at families. It only lists full apartments, houses and villas, so that holidaymakers always have the whole property to themselves and HouseTrip stays are on average 50% cheaper than a hotel. This gives families the perfect opportunity to create some home cooked delights with authentic local ingredients that the whole family will love.
Research has discovered that eating out when on holiday can be a source of family arguments, so, cooking “at home” in a rental could be less stressful and more fun, especially after a trip to the local markets to buy your provisions! I was asked to create recipes from three of HouseTrip’s key holiday destinations: France, Italy and Spain, and you can look forward to the following recipes over the next few weeks:
Family Holiday Recipes
* Provence Beef Casserole – An easy one pot dish made with beef and local French herbs that can be made in the oven or on top of the stove; Serve with rice or potatoes
* Pan Fried Lemon and Garlic Chicken – An easy pan-fried chicken dish made with chicken breasts, cream cheese, lemon, garlic and olive oil. Serve with baked potato and seasonal vegetables
* One Pot Spanish Chicken and Rice – Cook a complete meal in a pan with chicken thighs or breasts, tinned red peppers, chorizo, onions, tomatoes and rice
* Red Pepper and Cheese Tortilla – Make this tasty pepper and cheese omelette in a small frying pan and finish it off in the oven or under the grill for ease – Serve with salad
* Oven baked bacon and mushroom risotto – Easy to make risotto with pancetta and mushrooms that is baked in the oven – serve with salad and bread
Each recipe has been designed specifically to allow families staying in holiday rentals to enjoy the local cuisine in a simple, easy and cost-effective way. Featuring a small and carefully selected range of ingredients that don’t require a wide range of cooking equipment, the recipes are quick and simple to put together, meaning families don’t have to spend their precious time away slaving away in the kitchen, and I hope you will all enjoy my series of Family Holiday Recipes as much as I did creating them, and eating them! I have also developed a series of top tips for supermarket shopping whilst abroad so that British holidaymakers can enjoy the local food scene with confidence, which I’ll share below. Karen
Disclaimer: Commissioned work with HouseTrip
Supermarket Top Tips:
Supermarkets are very similar on the Continent, with a few exceptions. The fresh vegetables and fruit are not normally by the entrance, as they are in the UK, and are situated towards the back and the middle of the store. Most towns and villages have a local supermarket, as do all large cities of course and they offer hardware, kitchen utensils and toiletries as well as food and drink. Here are a few handy “cheats” and tips for supermarket shopping in Europe, especially in France and Spain.
My top five tips are:
1. Make use of the tinned section for easy ingredients; tinned tomatoes and beans are particularly handy. You will also be able to buy high quality meals in tins, particularly in France, such as Pommes Dauphinoise, Cassoulet and Coq au Vin.
2. Ready-made and ready-rolled pastry is a real boon in Continental supermarkets and is top quality. You can buy ready-rolled puff and short crust pastry for under €1 which saves on pennies and time in the holiday kitchen. Puff pastry is called Pâte feuilletée in France and there are several short crust pastry varieties such as Pâte sablée (usually sweet) and Pâte brisée. Short crust pastry is called Masa quebrada in Spain and puff pastry is called Masa de hojaldre.
3. Look out for ready-grated cheese in the cheese section; this is very handy and makes an easy ingredient to have to hand for toasted sandwiches and omelettes. The cheese section and cheese counters may seem very daunting at first, spanning two or three aisles sometimes – but, the cheese is always set out in sections, such as: Brie and Camembert; Hard cheeses; Goat’s cheese; Soft and Cream cheese, Diet cheeses, local and speciality such as seasonal cheeses; Cheese slices and cooking cheese such as Raclette etc and Grated cheeses.
4. Fresh seasonal fish, shellfish and seafood is always available in European supermarkets, so although the pre-packed products may be cheaper, you can really engage with the local food culture and experiment with local specialities.
5. Smaller supermarkets WILL close for lunch in Europe, so be warned! They usually close between 12 Noon and 2pm, but they are open until 8pm, or even later in larger towns and cities.
(I will be sharing more tips in my other recipe posts)