Sam and Sam Clark are the husband-and-wife team behind Moro, the award-winning southern Mediterranean restaurant which they founded together in 1997. In 2003 they published Moro: the Cookbook (Ebury Press, £25; £15 in paperback), a collection of the restaurant’s most popular and successful dishes. Their new book, Casa Moro (Ebury Press, £25) came out on November 4; in addition to hundreds of new recipes, it explores the history and tradition on which their cooking is based.
“At Moro we change the menu every two weeks, to keep the food seasonal and fresh for both the customers and chefs. To maintain this constant flow of ideas, travelling and books play a vital role in our menus. Sometimes we read about a dish in a book, then go to that particular country to find someone to show us how to make it, or we taste something new and refer to books to make sure we’ve left nothing out. Below is a list of our favourite of the books we use at Moro. The longest story book Samuel has ever read (due to dyslexia) is The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – but cookery books have never been a problem.”
1. A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Perhaps the most well-thumbed book in our collection. As you’ll see, we love all of Claudia Roden’s and Paula Wolfert’s books, and both authors were hugely influential when we were beginning at Moro. Our copy has been signed by Claudia, which makes it even more special.
2. The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean by Paula Wolfert
Ruth Rogers gave us this thoughtful leaving present when we left the River Café to start Moro. We still remember our excitement as we read the recipes for the first time. Just the sort of food we adore.
3. Moroccan Cuisine by Paula Wolfert
Reading Paula’s recipe for warka, the north African paper-thin pastry, intrigued us so much that when we took a campervan trip through Spain and Morocco while the restaurant was being built, it became one of our missions to learn how to make it. Our quest was successful, we put crab brik on the menu and it has been a favourite ever since. Recently, we’ve spent a lot of time in Morocco and have learned about tangia lamb, slow-cooked with preserved lemon in an earthenware pot buried in the ashes of the hammam (steam bath). That recipe now appears in Casa Moro.
4. The Spanish Kitchen by Nicholas Butcher
One of the most thorough and thoroughly enjoyable books available on Spanish cookery. Written with knowledge and affection – which is true, of course, of all the books we have mentioned.
5. Delicioso! Regional Cooking of Spain by Penelope Casas
A wonderful mishmash of dishes from all the different regions of Spain, with personal twists from the chefs who have contributed.
6. Classic Turkish Cooking by Ghillie Basan and Jonathan Basan
A great book which draws you in and allows one to see the breadth and quality of Turkish food.
7. Food for the Vegetarian – Traditional Lebanese Recipes by Aida Karagoglan
Vegetable cooking of the Islamic regions of Mediterranean is some of the most enlightened in the world – and this book helped open our eyes.
8. Lebanese Cuisine by Anissa Helou
This book taught us about freekeh – roasted green wheat – as well as other delicious recipes.
9. Time Life Foods of the World series – the Cooking of the Middle East
Beautiful and touching, and visually influential for our books.
10. Mediterranean Seafood by Alan Davidson
A classic – useful in the kitchen at home and on holiday, when going around the amazing fish markets in Spain.