Regular readers of this blog will know by now that my favourite cookbook is, without doubt, Moro East by Sam & Sam Clark. I did make an alternative all-time favourite choice in my own Top Ten Cookery Books early on in my blogging career, calling heavily on nostalgia (although Moro East was in my Top 10 list), but writing most days about food and cooking over the past year has made it obvious to me that the book which reflects the food that excites me most is the Clarks’ one. I do also, as readers will know, love Italian food and my day-to-day cooking is without doubt mostly Italian influenced, but I rarely use recipe books for that. Moro East, however, is heavily used, particularly for special occasions, and contains many recipes that I cook over and over again.
I love Sam & Sam Clark’s other two books as well: Moro the Cookbook and Casa Moro. And not long ago, I would have been hard pressed to choose between Moro East and Moro the Cookbook as my favourite. But it was the chocolate ice cream that did it. When I found the most heavenly recipe for my favourite flavoured ice cream in Moro East, well, the decision was made. I now don’t think I can live without my Moro East book!
I haven’t had Casa Moro long enough to get to know it as well (I’ve had Moro East since 2007 when it was first published, a present from my son after our first visit to the restaurant). One of my best memories from a year of blogging is sitting in Moro one morning in April when everyone was busy getting prepared for the day ahead and talking to Samuel Clark about his favourite cookbooks. At the end, Sam gave me a signed copy of Casa Moro and also a bowl of Mansaf for lunch before I left: a most glorious Jordanian soup that’s in Moro East, and the bowl I had looks just as it does in the book.
From the book I use their gorgeous fattoush recipe that has pomegranates in it, various tahini dips; lots of salads, like Feta, chicory and orange salad and a Beetroot with pistachio sauce recipe that inspired my cooking in the last couple of days and has had dinner guests asking for the recipe. I always use their kofte recipe, a favourite when barbecuing as well as their Moro classic lamb and chicken marinade. For years I’d used a Marcella Hazan recipe for an Italian version of green beans with tomato sauce but then discovered a Moro version that adds fenugreek seeds and transforms the dish from Italian to an earthier, more north African dish. I could go on and on … but why, you may be asking, am I writing about Moro East in such detail now? It’s because my children keep pointing out that they don’t have a copy of the book – yet! Heavy hinting going on here, I think. And it’s my son’s birthday tomorrow and there is a tradition that I always buy him a cookbook as part of his present, so, Moro East is what he’s getting. I also bought the book for my friend Annie (who features regularly in these pages) for her recent birthday. Jonathan said I should have gone to Moro to buy it so that I could get the Sams to sign it for her. Sorry … didn’t have time for that … but Annie was pleased with her book and we talked last time we met about going to Moro soon. And it looks as if Jonathan and I may also have to go soon so he can get his book signed! (I think I may be creating lots of excuses to cross London and go to Moro here!) Meanwhile, I know he’s going to love having these recipes on hand and it’s a book I can’t imagine tiring of; there are always new delights to find as well as all those recipes I come back to again and again.