Many cookbooks have emerged recently that started development during the lockdowns of the last few years. Sam and Sam Clark looked for ways to simplify their cooking to feed a five person household while compelled to stay under one roof. Luckily for the rest of the family, the Clarks are professional chefs and the husband-and-wife team behind Moro and other restaurants that focus on Southern Mediterranean dishes and flavours. The result of this endeavour is Moro Easy, a cookbook aiming to make their restaurant’s dishes accessible to the home cook through uncomplicated methods and ingredients.
Moro Easy delivers on straightforward and interesting dishes with many living in the sweet spot between undemanding and delicious, the kind of recipe that makes cooking tasty food deceptively easy and makes you think maybe one day, you too can open your own restaurant. On the menu could be the fish tagine with potatoes, peas and coriander requiring you to just whizz up a spice paste and bake fish in it for 8 minutes. Or a series of labneh recipes that are about as quick to make as they are to read.
Then there’s the ones that are a little more involved and bring you back to reality. For instance, it would be wise to stay focused on the kale purée with polenta unless you’re looking to paint your kitchen green.
However, books that have time limits or difficulty levels in their names set a high threshold of success. How easy is easy? How quick is quick? I remember the furore over the release of Jamie’s 20 Minute Meals when it transpired they did not in fact, take exactly 20 minutes. If you have a food processor at your disposal some recipes will take minutes of preparation. Without one, it’ll depend on your tolerance for chopping. Simple recipes also live and die by the quality of the ingredients you can source. A recipe with few components like Peas with Jamón and Mint will be inherently more delicious if the ingredients are of a higher quality.
There is a joy to be found in simple food, using the smallest amount of ingredients and effort to produce something remarkable. The best recipes here are the ones that just let the ingredients do their thing, roasted squash covered in cinnamon and a sweet and spicy vinegar is outstanding, as is aubergine dotted with tomatoes and tahini sauce. Mostly, they’re rustic and wholehearted dishes, the sort of thing you could eat entirely with chunks of bread. This isn’t a bad thing, I’ll be friends with anything that can be eaten using carbohydrate cutlery. On the whole, it’s an enjoyable book but something that’s more solid than spectacular.
Cuisine: Southern Spanish and Mediterranean
Suitable for: Beginner and confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: Four stars
Buy this book: Moro Easy by Sam and Sam Clark
£30, Ebury Press
Review written by Nick Dodd a Leeds-based pianist, teacher and writer. Contact him at www.yorkshirepiano.co.uk