Angela Clutton reflects on the latest gathering of the Cookbook Club, which this month focused on Sam and Sam Clark’s Moro: The Cookbook
It’s a marvellous thing to find a cookbook that makes you want to have a go at, well, pretty much everything in it; a cookbook that as you turn the pages gets your mouth watering at the flavour possibilities to come. Such tomes are rarer to come across than they should be. Which made it all the more exciting to discover the Cookbook Club’s collective enthusiasm for the recipes in Moro: The Cookbook, our chosen book for March’s event.
As so often, we picked this one not just because of its wonderful recipes but also the ethos and story behind it. In the introduction Sam and Sam Clark write about the origins of Moro, their restaurant, lying in their joint fascination with Islam, their love of Spain, and the camper-van trek they embarked on as newly-weds through Spain, Morocco and beyond in search of recipe inspiration. This they found, then fused it with their belief in the importance of good ingredients
Sam and Sam want these recipes to be earthy and simple for home cooks to put together. I think they are. The experience of the Cookbook Club members was very much that they’d enjoyed cooking the dishes (in honesty, there is one exception to that—read on….). Our Cookbook Club dishes were a feast of intense colours and flavours. Here are just some of them.
—Cauliflower with saffron, pine-nuts and raisins. When giving it a trial go, this dish’s cook had swapped the pinenuts for pistachios and reported that worked very well. For the event, he brought it as per the recipe and it was a beauty of a dish. One to convert any cauliflower-sceptic.
—Pork cooked in milk with bay and cinnamon. This arrived swaddled in towels and a hot water bottle having just been cooked. The meat was fabulously tender. Served with mash, it would be good for an alternative Sunday roast.
—Aubergine and red pepper salad with caramelised butter and yoghurt. Well worth the mess on the cook’s hob by using it to char the aubergines.
—Octopus salad with dill, paprika and caperberries. Kudos to this member for doing something way outside of his cooking comfort-zone (that always gets extra Cookbook Club love from me). As we ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the tender octopus everyone happily took his word at how straightforward this was to make.
—Lamb pilav with cabbage and caraway. This cook (like me, from having done the saffron rice recipe) is now a convert to the Moro-method of rinsing and soaking rice. It makes the fluffiest, best rice I’ve ever made or tasted.
—Cod baked with tahini sauce. The favourite dish of Jonathan, who helps out at our events. By now he is something of a Cookbook Club dish-tasting expert so his opinion is one to be taken seriously.
We shared desserts: a yoghurt cake with pistachios and a torta de naranja, both gorgeously light, and a bitter chocolate coffee and cardamom truffle cake, which is the one I really want to mention—not to dwell on the fact that it didn’t go brilliantly and was a struggle to make, but to emphasise the open spirit with which all Cookbook Club members come along to our events and talk honestly about how well (or not!) a dish went.
As I always say, the Cookbook Club isn’t a cooking completion—or even a cookbook competition—but it is about sharing food experiences together. If you feel inspired to pick up Moro: The Cookbook and give some of these a go too, please write to me at the Cookbook Club email address and let me know what you think.
23rd May: The A to Z of Eating: A Flavour Map for the Adventurous Cook by Felicity Cloake
27th June: Kitchen Diaries: Volumes I to III by Nigel Slater