I am trying to run down my store cupboard in anticipation of moving to a new house. I have no doubt that I will find some weird and wonderful things lurking at the back from the 1980’s but the truth is that my store cupboard really is the source of some wonderful meals and I like having a repertoire of things to draw on.

weck-jars-1

Pulses seem to be a staple in all sorts of forms. At the moment I am looking at bags of beans, bulgar wheat, pearl barley, lentils, different rices and just this week a new investment in Freekeh. This grain was first brought to my attention by team Ottolenghi. He describes the history of this green wheat here on his website and is of course one of the few people selling it at his online store. It was the smokiness that interested me, so tonight I am cooking with it for the first time.

caffe sant eustachio cup

I actually bought my box at Marks and Spencer. Having worked there for almost 20 years, I still have an affection for the food and always have a nose around their International brands. This is a discreet section towards the back but full of many interesting discoveries. It is under the management of the lovely Mr Seaby who is responsible for cherry picking the best ambient products from around the world to add interest into the grocery range and over recent years he has done a grand job. Food icons in the range include Kewpie mayonnaise, Alan Milliat nectars, Sant’Eustachio wood roasted coffee (arguably the best in the world!), El Navaricco pulses from Spain, pimenton (of course) and fabulous Swedish rye crackers (knackebrod) which remind me of my trip to the beautiful Stockholm.

Moon Valley up close

Recently I spotted this range from Moon Valley who are a social enterprise established in 2009, primarily working with Palestinian farmers in the West Bank and the surrounding countries, doing some great stuff with local people and for the local economy. The company was founded by Toby Coppel (ex Chief Strategy Officer, Yahoo) and a man who used to walk me round the fashion floor of M&S Bromley store when I was a mere Assistant Manager and he was the Director of Womenswear, Andrew Stone, now Lord Stone of Blackheath. This man was most definitely a genius, sharing a million and one ideas with me every week and praying that I had the sense to pick one or two that would really impact on sales. The one that sticks in my memory was an idea to display sale merchandise on roller racks in size order, which is common practice now, but was certainly revolutionary then. These two have on board as their CEO another colleague from M&S, David Job, who was a highly respected Senior Food Buyer when I worked in the food group, and is now managing this fabulous business.

freekeh pilaf

In order to do justice to my first time freekeh I went with Ottolenghi, who has a feast of wonderful recipes online. He is a dab hand at this type of cooking. This pilaf is right up my street, ensuring I have leftovers to feed me during the week and making sure to add flavour not only with plenty of herbs, but also the yogurt dressing, which I later transformed into tzatziki.

So what of the freekeh? Well, it was fab. I have always preferred bulgar wheat to couscous and now I think freekeh tops the bill.

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