I am currently between homes, which is an interesting state in itself.

Thankfully I have wonderful friends who are always supportive and so I find myself house-sitting at Junior Masterchef Amber’s home whilst they are on a well deserved break. I moved in over the weekend and found myself raiding my store cupboard to make sure I had all my usual ingredients to hand for the time I am here.

Groceries the Eataly way

It has been fascinating to realise just what I use on a regular basis and also to see someone else’s cupboards to better understand just how different we all are. Everything here is absolutely immaculate and puts me to shame. And clearly, there is a bias towards bakery as Amber is such a queen at the sweet stuff. She has her own special bakery fridge packed with butter and chocolate and sugar and spice and all things nice. Thankfully this is far enough away from the kitchen to avoid temptation. And the kit!! As I see the Great British Bake Off starting again, I marvel at all the tins and cases, decorations and strange one off machines like the cake pop maker and best of all the authentic traditional popcorn machine in the corner of her bedroom. Love her.

The Filling Station, NYC

My bag of tricks included my chosen Maremma olive oil from the Borough Market boys, chilli salt from NYC, tuna (I love tinned catfood tuna!), knorr stockpots, maldon salt, the stir fry combo of soy sauce, mirin & sesame oil plus all the ingredients for my Mum’s salad dressing. This is always a hit whenever I make it and a great base recipe to change around for different salads. More mustard and lots of dill for potato salad or more more mayo and lots of seasoning for coleslaw….

Add a heaped teaspoon each of wholegrain mustard and mayo into a glass, cup or bowl and mix together. Slowly drizzle in sunflower oil, stirring hard all the time to emulsify. Once you have the right level of consistency add the white wine vinegar (1/3 – 1/2 of the oil quantity). Drop in a crushed whole garlic clove and leave to flavour. Perfect.

Thankfully I am not the only one with these guilty pleasures and weird store cupboard quirks. OFM did an article some years ago and never one to miss an opportunity we now see celebrity chefs increasingly giving way to supporting the advertising of these products.

The best proponent of the store cupboard are the wonderful Wildishes of Cape Town. I learnt a big lesson when I stayed there as these guys have such a well stocked cupboard that they have at least 4 meals ready to cook at any time even when the fridge looks bare. Great pulses, carbs, tinned tomatoes and clever use of the freezer are key. I have never eaten better at home and try all the time to emulate their ways.

Sadly, I left my bay leaves at home and the bakery home here are not big on that so my artichoke last night was not quite as flavourful as usual and the Spanish Omelette fall back position is not advised but I will manage.

Any secrets to share? let me know.