Itâ€™s a long while since I came across a cook book where I wanted to cook virtually everything in the book and it didnâ€™t even belong to me, IÂ borrowed the new Morito cookbook from my daughterâ€™s kitchen three weeks ago and I still havenâ€™t given it back, I even ordered my very own copy. Morita is the baby sister of Moro, Sam & Samanthaâ€™s Clarkeâ€™s restaurant in Exmouth Market in London. If you havenâ€™t eaten at Moro put it on your London list right away.
Sam and his lovely wife spent several years cooking in the kitchens at the River CafÃ©. In 1997 they opened Moro to cook the food they loved Â and to introduce their guests to the lesser known flavours of the Mediterranean. Â They were newly married and had returned from a camper van research trip through Spain, Morocco and the Sahara, – an enthusiastic young couple on a mission to discover the tiny details that make food taste authentic and not appear to be cooked by an Anglo Saxon.
They also wanted to demonstrate Â how the different combination of spices one chooses can add the magical flavours of different continents. They installed a wood burning oven, made their own sour dough bread and yoghurt, set up an allotment, forged links with farmers and producers and built up a super loyal following. They continue to explore, Â experiment and play. Â In 2010Â Morito was opened next door, Sam and Sam describe it as the little noisier more rebellious sibling of Moro, it was greeted with joy and anticipation by their many devotees.
Morito serves a wide selection of tapas and mezze and little plates to nibble and share. The secrets are in Morita cookbook published by Ebury Press. Here is a tantalizing taste of some of their summer salads.
Radish and Pomegranate Salad
This pretty, peppery salad gives sweetness to your table and is excellent alongside fish, chicken or a rich vegetable dish. We slice the vegetables on a mandoline, the thinner they are, the better they absorb the dressing.
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 large pomegranate
1 tablespoon Forum Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar or a good quality aged red wine vinegar with a pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
150-200g long white daikon (mooli) or black radish, thinly sliced
5 red radishes, sliced into very thin rounds
1 golden beetroot, peeled and very thinly sliced (optional)
1 small kohlrabi, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 bunch of mint, finely shredded
3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
The make the fresh pomegranate juice, cut the pomegranate in half and take out the seeds, discarding any bitter skin or white pith. Put the seeds in a sieve and press them with the back of spoon to extract all the juice, discarding any skin or hard seeds. Put all the dressing ingredients into a jam jar with a lid, season with salt and pepper and shake well.
To make the salad, put the radishes, beetroot, if using, and kohlrabi in a bowl, add the mint and pomegranate seeds and pour over the dressing. Mix everything together and serve immediately.
From Morito, Sam & Sam Clarke
Cauliflower, Pine Nuts, Raisins and Saffron
The cauliflower becomes soft and rich from absorbing the flavoursome oil.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 Spanish onion, sliced
1 small cauliflower, leaves and stalk discarded, separated into florets
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
A large pinch of ground turmeric
Â½ teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and roughly ground
Â½ teaspoon coriander seeds, roughly ground
4 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons raisins, soaked in hot water till plump, drained
15 threads of saffron, steeped in 100ml hot water
1 small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
Heat the oil in a large, wide saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft, golden and sweet.Â Add the cauliflower florets, garlic, spices and another pinch of salt. Cook over a medium heat for 10 -1 5 minutes, stirring often.
Now add the pine nuts, raisins and the saffron-infused water. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Stir in half of the chopped coriander and remove from the heat. Serve with the remaining coriander scattered on top.
From Morito, Sam & Sam Clarke
Grilled Onion Salad, Pomegranates and Mint
If we are proud of anything in our books, it is making people think about vegetables in different ways and all their possibilities. This recipe is a good example of that. Charred onions have a beautifully smoky taste and a wonderful velvety texture. Please do try this dish.
4-6 red or white onions
12 quantity of Pomegranate Dressing
Seeds of 1 large pomegranate
2 tablespoons shredded mint
Grill the onions whole and unpeeled over a hot barbecue for 20-30 minutes, until black and charred all over. This method will impart an aromatic smokiness to the dish. Cook slightly, peel and cut into halves or quarters.
Alternatively, if roasting in the oven, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Place the whole onions on a baking ray and cook for 35-40 minutes or untilÂ they have some give but are still slightly firm. You donâ€™t want them to become mushy and lose their colour. Remove from the oven and cool a little. Peel and cut the onions as before and place on a baking tray under a hot grill or on a hot griddle pan and leave until lightly charred.
To serve, transfer the onions whilst still warm to a bowl, pour over the dressing, season with a little salt and pepper and mix gently but make sure the onions are well coated. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and mint.
From Morito â€“ Sam & Sam Clarke
Beetroot, Almonds and Mint
At Morito we often serve this salad with a few think slices of cecina (Spainish cured beef) or Pastirma. However, itâ€™s so delicious on its own that it is difficult to stop eating.
3 tablespoons blanched almonds or roasted Marcona
700g raw bunched beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated
1 quantity of Pomegranate dressing
2 tablespoons shredded mint
2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds
If using blanched almonds, roast them in the oven at 150C/300F/gas 2, until golden brown. Cool and roughly chop.
Place the grated beetroot in a bowl. Pour the dressing over, then add the almonds, mint and pomegranate seeds. Mix well, taste and serve.
From Morito â€“ Sam & Sam Clarke
Steamed Aubergines with a Peanut Dressing
Madhur Jaffrey introduced us to this delectable aubergine recipe from Northern China. It can be served as a starter or as an accompanying vegetable or as a salad. It goes particularly well with cold meats. Madhur urged us to seek out long slim variety of aubergines rather than the larger seedy ones.Â Weâ€™ve been growing them ever since â€“ the variety is Slim Jim â€“ Look out for them at the Midleton Farmers Market.
560g (1Â¼ lb) aubergines
50g (2oz) raw peanuts, roasted and ground to a paste in a clean coffee-grinder or 3 tablespoons freshly made peanut butter from a health food shop
50 ml (2fl oz) Chinese light soy sauce
25 ml (1fl oz) Chinese red vinegar (use red wine vinegar as a substitute
15 ml (1fl oz) sugar (use a bit more, if needed)
Â¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine
15 ml (1fl oz) sesame oil
15 ml (1fl oz) garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
15 ml (1fl oz) fresh ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
2 tablespoons green coriander, very finely chopped, both leaves and stems, plus a few extra green coriander sprigs for garnishing
If the aubergines are the long, slim variety, quarter them lengthways, and then cut them into 7.5cm (3inch) long fingers.Â If using the more common, fat aubergine, cut it into fingers that are 7.5 x 2.5cm (3inch x 1inch).Â Steam over a high heat for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, combine all the remaining ingredients except the green coriander in a bowl and mix well.Â This is the sauce.
When the aubergine pieces are tender, lift them out carefully and arrange them neatly in a single layer in a large platter.Â Stir the sauce.Â Add the green coriander to it and mix again.Â Pour the sauce evenly over the aubergines.Â Serve at room temperature or chilled.Â This dish may be prepared ahead of time, covered and refrigerated.Â Garnish with the green coriander sprigs just before serving.
Rachelâ€™s Raspberry Upside-Down Cake
Rachel makes this upside-down cake at least every couple of weeks. I love the way the dish starts off as a delicious dessert, ideal for rounding off a family meal. Then the next day (if thereâ€™s any leftover!) it turns into the perfect coffee-time treat, to be enjoyed in company or just on your own.
50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter
125g (4 1/2oz/generous 1/2 cup) caster sugar
250g (9oz) fresh or frozen raspberries
For the sponge
150g (5oz/1 1/4 sticks) butter, softened
150g (5oz/generous 1/2 cup) caster sugar
200g (7oz/scant 2 cups) self-raising flour, sifted
25cm (10 inch) diameter ovenproof frying pan (diameter measured at the top)
Preheat oven to 170Â°C/325Â°F/Gas Mark 3.
Place the butter in the frying pan and melt over a mediumâ€“high heat. Add the caster sugar, stirring to mix, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, then scatter the raspberries into the pan so that they cover the base in a single layer. Leave to sit while you make the sponge.
In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft, then add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the flour. Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a food processor and whiz together briefly until they come together.
Spoon the sponge mixture over the raspberries in blobs, then carefully spread it out to cover the fruit in the pan.
Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes or until the sponge feels set in the centre â€“ a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean. Allow to sit for 2 minutes, then place a serving plate on top of the pan and, clasping the plate firmly against the pan, carefully flip it over. Lift off the pan to reveal the pudding â€“ now upside down on the plate, with the raspberries on top. Serve warm or at room temperature with perhaps a little cream.
Any leftover cake will keep (covered with a cake cover or an upturned bowl so as not to squash the raspberries) for up to two days
Clotildeâ€™s Fruit Compotes â€“
fruit purees in tiny pots from Ballyhoura are worth knowing about â€“ my little grand-daughter Tilly Bird ate a whole pot with her fingers recently. You can buy them at Douglas Farmers Market and some supermarkets Â www.atasteofballyhouracountry.com
Seek Â out the Rocket Man HQ.
Jack Crottys many fans from Mahon Point, Douglas and Wilton Farmers Markets will be delighted to know about his new enterprise – a salad and juice bar in Princes Street, Cork (alongside the English Market) . www.therocketman.ie
Kids in the kitchen â€“
there was a terrific response to last yearâ€™s classes so we are offering another whole series of hands-on cooking courses for kids. They have brilliant fun rustling the pots and pots while they learn a whole repertoire of yummy dishes. For dates and details see – www.cookingisfun.ie