Veracruz-Style Grilled Fish (Pescado Veracruzano)

Nothing says summertime more than whole fish on the grill, accompanied by some fresh veggies, salsas, and various ecoutrements.  If you can manage to get a pretty backdrop of the ocean, some cold adult beverages and a beautiful sunset, I’d say you’ve got life figured out my friend.  The tomato-based sauce for this fish is herbaceous from the oregano, parsley and cilantro, briny from the olives and spicy from the jalapeños rendering it the perfect sauce for fish, chicken or grilled veggies.  I usually serve this with some Spanish rice, a big green salad and of course, Margaritas, vino and cerveza.

Serves 4


For the Fish Marinade:

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 sprig fresh oregano, leaves only minced

2 sprig parsley, leaves only minced

Juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

2 whole snapper (1 ½ – 2 lbs.), scaled and gutted

For the Veracruz Sauce:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 large tomatoes, chopped

Juice of ½  lime

1 sprig oregano, leaves chopped

1 sprig parsley, leaves chopped

1 bay leaf

¼ cup green olives, such as manzanillas, pitted and chopped

1 tbsp capers

Black pepper, to taste

¼ bunch cilantro, chopped


For the Garnish:

1 lime, cut into wedges

Corn tortillas


Heat up a grill to medium heat.

Score the fish 2-3 times on each side, down to the bone.  Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade and cover the entire fish, inside and out with it.  Let sit for a minimum of 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes in the refrigerator. While the fish is marinating, start the sauce.

In a saucepan over medium high heat, add the olive oil, onion and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, lime juice, oregano, parsley, bay leaf, olives and capers.  Season the sauce with black pepper.  Cook until the tomatoes just start to break down, about 10 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, grill the fish on a well-oiled grill for about 7-8 minutes per side.  Wrap the tortillas in foil and place on the grill for the last few minutes to heat.

When the sauce is done, remove form the heat, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary and add the cilantro.

Serve the fish whole on a platter, topped with the sauce and garnished with lime wedges and warm corn tortillas.





Cardamom Rice Pudding with Golden Raisins and Mango

When I land in the nursing home, I want you all to do me a big favor (I’m looking directly at my nephews Bennett and Harrison) and please make sure you give this recipe to the cooks.  In my diapered, toothless state of decay I would much rather eat this glorious version of rice pudding than the gelatinous instant garbage I would otherwise be fed.  Rice pudding is one of those desserts that is mostly just okay 99% of the time and I will never understand how that weird place in SoHo, Rice to Riches is still in business.  In fact, I’m partially offended that I have to see it out the window when I’m having morning beers at The Spring Lounge; a constant reminder that NYC dive bars are dying because people would rather pay $8 for a cup of pudding than sit next to a toothless old man drinking beer and regaling days of yore.  All this complaining aside, I do think rice pudding deserves better than it is mostly treated.  It is an extremely economical way to use up leftover rice and with a few jazzy ingredients like rose water and cardamom, it becomes almost elegant considering it’s still a pudding.  It can also be made ahead of time, served at room temperature or cold, and it’s great for all ages, especially for our dentally challenged young and old.

Serves 4


1 cup cooked rice

½ cup whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

1 can coconut milk

1 tbsp rosewater

¼ cup sugar

½ tsp cardamom, ground

¼ tsp cinnamon, ground

Pinch salt

½ cup golden raisins

½ cup mango, diced


In a medium pan, add the rice and milk and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and add the cream, coconut milk, rosewater, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and salt.  Simmer, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes or until the rice has thickened.  Remove from the heat and stir in the raisins.  Transfer the pudding to individual serving bowls.  Garnish with the mango.

*Note:  This pudding can be served at room temperature or cold.  If you are planning on chilling the pudding, make sure that you put a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of each pudding to prevent a film from forming.


Cantaloupe Basil Agua Fresca

Job got you down?  It’s summertime and I’m sure there are many places you’d rather be than sitting behind a desk, toiling away for the man, all while you could be downing a refreshing beverage on a beach somewhere.  Or a boat.  Or a park.  I’m sure an alleyway would suffice with this glorious Agua Fresca in your hand.  This recipe is virgin, because you know, the kids.  But I highly suggest throwing in some vodka, gin or tequila, because you know, the kids.


 1 cantaloupe, chopped into large chunks

3 cups water

Juice of 2 limes

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp salt

10-15 basil leaves, chopped


In a blender add the cantaloupe, water, lime juice, honey and salt.  Puree until completely smooth.  Strain through some cheesecloth, making sure to squeeze out all the liquid from the pulp*.  Add the basil and let steep in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Serve this refreshing beverage over ice.  If you’re feeling frisky, you can make a cocktail out of it by just adding your favorite hooch.  Happy summer!

*Note: Save the pulp and chuck it in the freezer. Add it to your morning smoothie- waste not want not!

Vegetarian Times

I’ve been a regular contributor and recipe developer for Vegetarian Times for a few years now. Check out the boozy libations and vegetarian dishes I’ve created for them.

Food Styling for Media: New York

International Culinary Center

Behind every mouthwatering food image is an accomplished food stylist—and the tricks of the trade are essential to transform ordinary plates into irresistible eye candy.  This course, taught by experienced food stylist Louise Leonard, will help launch your career as you learn to apply what you learn in the kitchen to the field—from building your own styling kit to learning how to style for different media to hands-on styling of an assortment of dishes.

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Louise Leonard is a chef, food personality, stylist, beer lover and recipe developer living the bi-coastal life in Los Angeles and New York.  Most recently she was crowned the winner of Season 2 of ABC’s primetime hit, The Taste, proving that not only does her food look beautiful, it is delicious to boot.  Louise specializes in cooking with beer, wine and spirits and is an advocate of supporting local breweries, wineries and distilleries.  Louise is also a contributor with Kin Community, YouTube’s #1 multi-channel for women, as host, recipe developer and stylist.  Other work includes styling for the Emmy award winning show, Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, The Chew, Access Hollywood, Next Food Network Star and recipe development for Vegetarian Times.

Born and raised in Wisconsin, or what Louise refers to as the land of “beer, cheese and brats”, she received degrees in Journalism and Spanish at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied at Universidad Compultense de Madrid, and eventually earned a Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts at the former French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center).  When not working, Louise is usually out scouring for delicious food and drink on her pretty green bike.

ICC NYC Schedule



Course Times: 

Fri: 4:00pm-9:00pm; Sat: 10:00am-4:00pm

Purchase a gift certificate.


Chilaquiles Verdes

One of my favorite recipes, Chilaquiles is a classic on West and East coast, hailing its tradition from the heavy influence of the Mexican culture. It doesn’t take much effort, and the ingredients are simple and available. Impressive enough to make for breakfast with friends and a Bloody Mary, and simple enough to have on a relaxing day at home by yourself.