A lot of you, like us, won’t be going out much or doing much shopping right now. When the family is cooped up together, food becomes extra important. And treats are even more special.
So we’ve asked members of the Libertà hive to share the kind of recipes that are easy to make and, preferably, can be made with ingredients you may already have.
Feel free to experiment.
And enjoy 😉
Libertà Recipes: #1 Joanna’s Tea Bread
A long time ago, I worked as a systems analyst in manufacturing industry. There were about 8 of us in the team, and our boss had a part-time secretary who looked after us all.
“Mother-hen” just about covers it. She was older than any of us, including the boss. How she managed to get through all the work by lunchtime each day, I never discovered. But she did. Even though she loved to gossip and her typing was not exactly brilliant. The original recipe came from her, following one of those gossipy discussions, and it’s been a mainstay in our family for years.
This tea bread is super simple to make and contains no butter or other fat. However, it is nicest served in slices, slathered with creamy butter. Or toasted and buttered.
Cheese goes well with it, too.
If you don’t eat dairy, you could try it with jam instead.
Plain also works, with a nice cup of tea.
My tea bread comes out darker than this illustration.
And nicer! (But I would say that, wouldn’t I?)
500 g mixed dried fruit (any combination: I use the mixed fruit bags from the supermarket. Probably best not to include nuts)
125 g sugar (any sort: I like dark soft brown sugar for colour and flavour)
200 ml cold black tea, preferably strong and dark
250 g self-raising flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
You will need either one 2 pound loaf tin, well greased and base lined, or 2 one-pound loaf tins, well greased and base lined.
Or use a paper liner. (Being idle, I use bought liners.)
1 Soak fruit and sugar in tea overnight.
2 Mix in eggs and flour.
3a Fill 2 x 1 pound loaf tins with mixture and bake at 140º fan for about 90 minutes.
3b Fill 1 x 2 pound loaf tin with mixture and bake at 140º fan for about 100 minutes.
4 Loaf/loaves are ready when a skewer in the middle comes out almost clean. It’s nice to leave it just a tiny bit sticky in the middle which ensures the whole loaf remains moist. If you let it get too dry in the oven, you’ll need more butter on top.
Slice and serve with butter. Or slice, toast and butter.
This tea bread freezes beautifully. Best to slice it before freezing as you can eat it sooner 😉
Libertà Recipes: #2 Sophie’s Carbonara
Some years ago, in another country, I encountered an Italian grandmother. She and I shared not one single word of a common language since she was a very rural grandmother who spoke a local dialect. Her grandson, my friend, hooted when he heard I had tried my phrase book Italian, Spanish and (getting desperate) Latin. He was less amused when he heard she had taken me into the kitchen. He himself, as I later gathered, had been driven from it at knife point.
Her aim was to show me how to make a pasta carbonara in one saucepan. She then clearly said, in her own language, “Blasted students, you gotta stop eating Macdonalds.” On the last word she didn’t spit. She didn’t need to.
I learned entirely by watching what she did. My version is a bit rough and ready but it works.
pasta – spaghetti, linguine, fusilli, those bow tie things, any really.
eggs – any size, maybe 1 per 2-3 people. Your choice.
cooked meat, diced – ham is classic, cold sausages, crispy bacon, any leftovers work.
hard cheese – pecorino is classic but cheddar is brilliant. I’ve even used old Stilton.
salt – for cooking the pasta, to your taste.
pepper – lots
1 Cook your pasta in a saucepan of salted water, as you usually do. I add a little olive oil. If you’re new to pasta, read the instructions on the packet.
2 As soon as it reaches the texture you like, drain the pasta through a colander and return it to the hot pan at once. (La Nonna kept the pan entirely away from the heat, but she had a ferocious stove, probably dating from Risorgimento times). I think you probably want to keep the pan of drained pasta somewhere warm but not on direct heat. Well, that’s what I do.
3 Into the pan break your egg(s) and grate your cheese. Or you can mix them up beforehand if you prefer, but that rather loses the point of the single pan. Add the diced meat and stir it all around. They will cook in the residual heat. You can add a splash of yoghurt or cream if you’re feeling voluptuous.
4 Add loads of pepper.
Takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. Perfect comfort food.
Actually, I might go and make some now.
PS I use any pasta I have to hand but there’s a reason the Italians use spaghetti or linguine – this is a very solid dish. It’s so tasty that you may be tempted to eat too much. If you have it for supper, either eat moderately or take indigestion tablets to bed with you.
Libertà Recipes: #3 Sarah’s Jambalaya
Is anyone else suffering from the lack of tinned tomatoes? I mean, the shelves are empty of
chopped and plum tomatoes, even tomato puree! I know things will improve, but I thought I’d give you one of my favourite easy go-to recipes that doesn’t have a tomato in sight!
Ingredients (plenty for 4 people)
500g chicken (thighs or breasts, in bite sized chunks), or fish, or vegetables (frozen mixed veg works well)
100g chorizo (you can use slices or chunks)
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli flakes (or a little more if you like it hot) or use powder
2 tsp ground ginger
200g long grain rice
1 litre stock
Small bowl of frozen veg
1 Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add chicken/fish etc and cook for 2 mins, stirring.
2 Add chorizo and spices and cook for 2 minutes, stirring
3 Add rice, stir well until coated
4 Add stock, then add frozen veg.
5 Cover and simmer until the rice is cooked (about 15 -20 minutes)
6 Serve immediately with crusty bread or (my favourite) hot garlic bread. Yum.
Libertà Recipes: #4: Liz’s Family Welsh Cakes
Welsh Cakes have been a part of my life for as long I can remember.
My mother’s family was part of the Welsh diaspora, the movement of miners from the Valleys in the terrible Depression of the 30s, to the brand new trading estate, with its plentiful jobs, in Slough.
An uncle cycled from south Wales; there was no Severn Bridge in those days and he had to go the long way around. When he got a job, and one of the four-bedroomed council houses being thrown up to house the desperately needed workers, he sent for the rest of the family. There was such an influx of families that my mother, aged ten, had to wait six months for a new school to be built
In the post war housing shortage my parents – with new baby – became part of that household. We lived there for nearly six years and you were as likely to hear Welsh spoken as English.
I remember my uncle fetching “the bakestone” from someone who had managed to bring it with her from Wales. It travelled around the community. It was an inch thick and weighed a ton, but he carried it on his bicycle.
My mother would then set to work, baking Welsh Cakes and Pikelets – small thick pancakes that are about twice the size of a drop scone.
I bought my own version of the modern bakestone – smaller, lighter, but still heavy – from Lakeland many years ago. My daughter now has it and she is still making Welsh Cakes for her children. Sadly, Lakeland no longer have it in their catalogue, but I found this one (pictured above) on Amazon.
500 g (1lb) self raising flour
200 g (7 oz) hard butter or margarine
115 g (4 oz) caster sugar
tsp mixed spice (optional)
170 g (6 oz) sultanas – or other dried fruit if sultanas not available. I have some crystallised ginger which I think would make a really scrumptious alternative, but I am very fond of ginger!
2 medium eggs, beaten
A dash of milk if the mixture is a little dry.
Preparation time around 15 mins
Cooking time, approx. 8 minutes
1 Put the flour, spice, butter or margarine and sugar into a bowl and rub together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sultanas and eggs and mix together.
2 Turn out the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until it’s approx. 6mm (a quarter of a inch) thick, then cut out circles with a biscuit cutter.
3 Lightly grease a bakestone or heavy frying pan and place over a medium/high heat until hot. Arrange the Welsh cakes on the cooking surface and cook until they are golden on both sides – approximately 8 or 9 minutes. Dust with caster sugar.
4 They are delicious eaten warm, but can be kept and buttered when cold. This quantity will make around 40 and you could freeze any leftover.
For more recipes try The Welsh Cake Cookbook!
Thank you ladies for the wonderful recipes. I have captured them into a RTF document, and will get them into my recipe data base real soon.
I don’t have a recipe to share, and probably no one needs one for this. Even in normal times, I depend heavily on a ground beef combination (mine is ground beef, shredded carrots, celery, and onion — but any family’s mix will do). I always keep plenty of this in my freezer. Add herbs for seasoning, roux and liquid to make a gravy, heat and serve over baked or mashed potatoes, with any side. Add oriental foods like bean sprouts and you have a quick fake oriental dish. You get the idea. My family has thrived on this play-it-by ear basic food for years.
Hi Sue. Nice to hear from you again. Hope you are safe and well. And that you enjoy our recipes. I made Sophie’s carbonara last week and it was really delicious but, as she warns, very solid. Better for lunch than supper, I think. Thank you for your recipe idea. Sounds a very useful freezer stand-by.
BTW I was much impressed by your recipe data base. Mine consists of a box of index cards and lots of pieces torn out of newspapers and magazines. And can I find things in it? No chance. Maybe I should spend our lockdown creating a recipe data base? Hmm 😉
Hello again, Sue. Love your all purpose ground beef stuff. Right up my street. Do you cook it before your freeze it?
Hi, Sue! Happy Easter. That is such a useful freezer item. It can be used in so many ways. If, like me, you have a roll of ready made puff pastry in the freezer, if would make a great pie, or pasties.
Thanks for the delicious recipes and love to you all. Stay safe. You’ve been in my thoughts. Barb xx
Thanks so much, Barb. You stay safe too.
Thank you, Barb!
Lovely recipes – thank you! I’ve tried a new one today for the first time and have just now cut it to check it looked and tasted okay (only tried a tiny bit as it’s a little warm still). It doesn’t use egg which was intriguing so here it is if anyone wants to have a go.
Walnut and Date Loaf: 300g SR flour; 300ml milk; 150g chopped dates; 110g dark Muscovado sugar; 50g chopped walnuts; 4tblsp sunflower oil; 2tsp mixed spice
1. Oven 180C – grease and line 2lb loaf tin (I used a tin liner).
2. Sift flour and spice into a bowl. Add dates and walnuts and mix well.
3. Whisk together the milk, Muscovado sugar and oil, then add to dry mixture, stirring thoroughly.
4. Spoon into loaf tin and place a few walnut halves on top. Bake about 50 minutes until firm.
5. Turn onto a wire rack, remove paper and cool.
I only had light Muscovado sugar and it looks fine. Didn’t have mixed spice so used a little ginger and cinnamon. Will only really know how good (or otherwise) it is tomorrow when it’s had time to cool properly!
This sounds scrummy, Rosemary. I don’t have any dates at the moment, so trying it will have to wait, but I shall have a go. Interesting that it contains neither fat nor eggs. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve got all these ingredients, Rosemary, thank you! Will suit us all inc the vegan. And thanks to everybody for the other recipes.
Yes, of course it’s vegan too. Hope your cake works out well, Kate.
I do love a date and walnut loaf!
I was only looking at a bag of mixed dried fruit bought in error, and wondering about a tea loaf—so Joanna’s recipe was very timely! I’ve just taken it out of the oven… can’t wait to try it!
It improves with keeping, Kate, but you have to keep it. Which can be hard. Hope you enjoy it.
Whoops. Only about 1/3 of it left! It’s very yummy, and easy too, which is always a bonus with my baking skills!
Delighted that it turned out well and tasted even better! Thanks for letting us know, Kate. And enjoy the other third.