Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: My Sweet and Savory Avocado Recipes
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.
Sometimes my daughter and I split an avocado as a snack.
I gently peel the skin off the two halves and put them, pit side down, on a cutting board, slice and squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle coarse sea salt over them. While I never remember to take ingredients out to have them at room temperature when baking a cake or cookies, I always leave a lemon or a lime out at room temp for just a moment like this. You get more juice when the limes are warm and the avocado just begs for a splash of citrus.
But avocadoes are also delicious a few other ways. I learned one recipe on Iron Chef America in Kitchen Stadium a couple years ago that was surprisingly simple and tasty:
Avocado Ice Cream
2 large avocadoes, peeled and pitted
3 medium limes
¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
¾ cup skim milk
In the blender, combine the avocado with a few light grates of zest and all of the juice from the limes, the condensed and skim milk. Blend only until smooth. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
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But, let’s face facts: other than slicing and enjoying an avocado as is or even lightly grilled, there is nothing that makes summer better than guacamole.
A few tips for great guacamole:
1. Don’t be skimpy with the lime and lemon juice. May need more than the recipe calls for. Brightens that whole dish.
2. Thoroughly rinse the onions under cold water (then drain and dry them off) to remove that raw onion smell from the equation.
3. Stir in the herbs and fragile ingredients (like diced tomato) last so that they don’t get mangled or over mixed
4. Avocadoes discolor quickly (although the lime and lemon juice help) so if you make a little in advance, keep the pits in the bowl with the guacamole and remove them only just before serving. Covering tightly with plastic wrap also helps a lot. Air exposure is the enemy of the green color in avocado.
5. Taste before you serve. Sometimes I find guacamole needs that last taste before ready.
6. The heat level: Seed and remove the inner ribs from the Jalapeno of you want a far less spicy guacamole. The seeds and the ribs have all the horsepower.
7. Want it even hotter? Stir in some diced Poblano pepper too.
8. Want to add cooked chilies? While it doesn’t add the wonderful, crunchy texture of raw chilies, some grilled Poblano pepper, chopped up and stirred in adds a lovely charred note to guacamole.
9. Want to make your guacamole more interesting? Chef Alex Stupak makes a tremendous guacamole at his restaurant at sprinkles toasted pistachios over it for a great texture and nutty richness. I love it.
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But, if I’m honest, when I have some friends over, I find myself always making guacamole the same way:
Alex Guarnaschelli’s Signature Guacamole
1 medium lime, juiced
1 medium lemon, juiced
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6-8 “splashes” hot sauce
1 small red onion, minced and rinsed under cold water
½ small garlic clove, minced
4 medium avocadoes, peeled and pitted
2-3 tsp. kosher salt
1 medium Beefsteak tomato, cored and diced
1 small Jalapeno pepper, cored and minced
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
4 sprigs cilantro, chopped (leaves and stems both)
In a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, olive oil, hot sauce, onion and garlic. Use the tines of a fork to “mash” the avocado and salt in the bowl with the other ingredients. Season the tomato dice with salt separately and with the sugar. Gently stir the tomatoes, jalapeno and cilantro, taste for seasoning and serve. I add the smaller amount of hot sauce and salt and taste. Then, add more if need be. Don’t like cilantro? Simply omit. I like a few basil leaves as a substitute but not essential.