Jodi Moreno, a NYC-based recipe developer, food stylist, “What’s Cooking Goodlooking” founder, and co-owner of Neighborhood Studio in Brooklyn, is among authors participating in East Hampton Library’s Authors Night (authorsnight.org) benefit on Saturday, August 10.
We caught up with the 2019 James Beard Nominated Cookbook Author of More with Less: Whole Food Cooking Made Irresistibly Simple, who splits her time between New York City and Amagansett.
Could you please discuss your philosophy for cooking?
JM: I strongly believe that there is an undeniable connection between health, well-being and the food that we eat. I also believe that eating hyper local and seasonal connects us to the land, the farmers that grow our food, as well as the other local purveyors and producers, which in turn helps build upon a strong sense of community. Ingredients taste best when they are prepared closest to the source and in their purest form, so it is only natural that cooking with these types of foods will produce amazing meals. Good food will enrich your life.
Each season brings a new exciting group of ingredients to utilize. For spring and summer, what are some of your go-tos and ways to showcase them?
JM: Spring and summer are definitely my favorite two seasons for ingredients and cooking. In spring, there is so much I look forward to: peas, ramps, asparagus, rhubarb, and all the spring greens (to name just a few). I love to prepare the spring veggies simply, either roasted or in an abundant salad that showcases their beauty. Rhubarb is one of my favorites to bake with, and I make everything from the Rhubarb Bars in my cookbook (recipe below), to more recently, a rhubarb banana bread (link on blog). In the summer, there are too many favorites to list, but the one thing I really look forward to is all the gorgeous tomatoes of the East End. My favorite way to enjoy them is thinly sliced on a piece of lightly toasted sourdough bread (from Carissa’s Bakery) with nothing more than some (homemade) mayo, salt, and pepper.
When you’re on the East End, where do you typically procure ingredients?
JM: I live in Amagansett, so I am walking/biking distance to both Amber Waves and Balsam Farms, which is where I get almost all of my produce from. For chickens and eggs I take a trip to Iacono Farm, and for seafood I head to Gosman’s in Montauk.
What does an ideal day in the Hamptons look like?
JM: Wake up and head to Ditch Plains, sit on the beach and read while my dog runs around and my husband surfs. Then, head home and walk over to Amber Waves to pick up ingredients for a big lunch. Cook and eat lunch in our outdoor kitchen with friends and leisurely make our way over to the pool where we spend the rest of the afternoon. Then head out to dinner at one of our favorite spots: Crow’s Nest or Nick and Toni’s, and maybe finish the night with some live music somewhere.
Where do you typically draw inspiration for new recipes?
JM: I am always looking for inspiration for new recipes. Traveling and going out to eat are probably where I get my best inspiration sparks from…. Seeing how other cultures or chefs see certain foods can inspire myself to see an ingredient or a recipe in a new way. I also get a lot of inspiration from the ingredients themselves…. seeing a vegetable or fruit in it’s prime will often inspire me to make the best of that ingredients. Lastly, I get a lot of inspiration from media. I am super tuned into food related books, magazines, TV shows, podcasts which I find are always such a great source of inspiration.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
JM: I am working on a couple of things….. Including a summer pop-up dinner series in the Hamptons this summer, so stay tuned!
Jodi Moreno’s Rhubarb Bars:
“I know I have a lot of favorites when it comes to food, but rhubarb is one of my true loves. Rhubarb can be used in so many ways, but these bars are just the best, and I make them over and over again,” Moreno shared. “Since rhubarb is super-seasonal, I usually stock up when I can and store it in a bag in the freezer (it keeps well frozen). If you do not have rhubarb or it’s not in season, you can make this recipe with any sliced fruit or berries. Peaches, blueberries, or apples would all make wonderful substitutes.”
Makes nine 3-inch bars
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the baking pan with two pieces of parchment paper, going in different directions, enough to come up and over each side (this will make them easy to remove).
In a large mixing bowl, add the oat flour, brown rice flour, maple syrup, olive oil, and salt and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to the parchment-lined pan and press evenly on all sides. Bake for 10 minutes, remove, and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the filling.
Put the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until golden brown. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Transfer the almonds to a food processor and add the oat flour, sugar, and olive oil and pulse several times until you have a coarse but consistent mixture. Spread the mixture evenly on top of the crust. Arrange the rhubarb on top, any way you like. I usually have to trim the pieces to fit the dish and piece them together like a puzzle.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and cooked through. Let the pan cool for at least 15 minutes before attempting to remove the bars and cutting into them. Once ready, lift the parchment out of the pan and transfer to a flat surface to cut the bars into squares. Serve warm, or transfer to an airtight container. The bars will keep for several days, covered, on the countertop.
For more information about Jodi, visit www.whatscookinggoodlooking.com.