Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: Win Taco Tuesday with These Garlic Shrimp and Avocado Tacos

11/10/2015 at 12:46 PM ET

Alex Guarnaschelli
Courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli

Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef, Food Network celebrity chef, author of Old-School Comfort Food and the executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurants. Read her PEOPLE.com blog every Tuesday to get her professional cooking tips, family-favorite recipes and personal stories of working in front of the camera and behind the kitchen doors. Follow her on Twitter at @guarnaschelli.

While I love Mexican food, I am no expert. I realize that what I generally consider Mexican or Tex-Mex food is me fiddling around with an American version of a taco. That being said, I love them!

Sitting on Chopped with a Mexican food authority like Aaron Sanchez has taught me a few things about how to approach making a good taco. While I always consider flavor the most important thing, texture in a good taco can be almost as critical. Avocado is almost always a must and I love shrimp as a companion.

In place of the shrimp, you can sub in roasted, sliced steak or chicken. Or I have also made this taco a vegetarian dish by omitting the shrimp altogether. It’s just a matter of finding the balance of ingredients you like best. Don’t like cilantro? Simply omit.

RELATED: Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: My Home Fries Recipe Will Change the Way You Think About Breakfast

Now, how spicy is spicy enough? This is the dilemma with tacos. Everyone likes a different heat level. I always have a bottle of hot sauce on the table for those who like to drizzle it over their tacos. In a restaurant kitchen, I can’t tell you how many bottles of hot sauce we go through. Some of my cooks make hot sauce from (extremely spicy!!) “Ghost” chilies and drown their tacos in it. I don’t even know how they stomach it!

Fresh jalapeno is wonderful in this recipe but it’s best to thinly slice a small one and have people add their desired amount. If you remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno, it is basically not spicy. Just remember to wear gloves or slice the chili carefully.

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Alex Guarnaschelli’s Garlic Shrimp, Tomato and Avocado Tacos
Serves: 6-8

1 small hot house cucumber, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt
2 tsp. sugar
2 small cloves garlic, grated
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from 2 large lemons, divided
1 medium avocado, halved, pitted
12 pieces medium (“U-10”) shrimp, grilled or seared, cut into small pieces
8 sprigs cilantro, stemmed
6-8 small hard corn tortilla shells
1 small jalapeno, thinly sliced

1. Marinate the cucumbers and tomatoes: Arrange the cucumber slices and tomato halves (flesh side up) in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season them with salt and sugar.  In a small bowl, stir together the garlic and olive oil and drizzle half of it over the tomatoes and cucumbers. Squeeze the juice from one lemon over them; set aside.

2. Prepare the other vegetables and shrimp: Use a tablespoon to scoop out the avocado in bits. Season with salt, a dash of the remaining lemon juice and the remaining garlic oil and cilantro. Toss till combined.

3. Assemble the tacos: Place a tortilla on a flat surface. Arrange some of the cucumber and tomato mixture and shrimp in an even line down the length of the tortilla. Top with avocado. Repeat. The best tasting tacos are ones that have a mix of all the different flavors in each bite. Serve immediately with jalapenos, if desired.

RELATED: Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: My Boozy Pear and Almond Tart Recipe

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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