SUMMER COOKING - Steak Kebabs with Ketchup Dressing / Strawberry & Mascarpone Quesadillas / Mascarpone

Steak Kebab with ketchup dressingWhether you’re actually on holiday or not, August has the summer holiday atmosphere – and the implication that we should all be spending as little time in the kitchen, which is fair enough. Today’s recipes fit the bill very well, and make the most of delicious Irish produce in peak season now.

Steak Kebabs with Ketchup Dressing

Delicious, tangy and easy to prepare, this classic combination is ideal for the barbecue of course, but will taste just as good indoors if the weather is disappointing. Tarragon is difficult to grow and may be hard to find – if unavailable, use parsley (preferably flatleaf) instead for the dressing.

Serves 4

450g /1 lb sirloin steak, cut into large dice
4 shallots, cut into quarters
2 courgettes, trimmed & cut into chunks
2 red peppers, deseeded & cut into chunks
Salt, black pepper, oil, balsamic or wine vinegar
3 tablesp. oil
1 tablesp. wine vinegar
3 tablesp. tomato ketchup
2 tablesp. Worcestershire sauce
Few drops of Tabasco
4 shallots, finely chopped
Handful of tarragon, chopped
Salt & black pepper

Thread the meat onto 8 skewers, alternating with the shallots, courgettes and red peppers. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, oil and balsamic vinegar.
Mix the dressing ingredients together.
Cook the kebabs on the barbecue or grill for 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve with the dressing and new potatoes.

SHORT RECIPE: Strawberry & Mascarpone Quesadillas

Strawberry and Mascarpone QuesadillasAn easy dessert that can be finished on a pan over the barbecue, or in the kitchen - the contrast between the warm caramelized tortilla and the cold filling is very more-ish…

Serves 4:

400g/14 oz strawberries
250g / 9 oz mascarpone cheese
1 orange, washed
1 pack good quality flour tortillas, eg Discovery
Icing sugar, as required

Hull the strawberries and slice them into a bowl. Add the mascarpone and, using a fine grater, grate in the zest of the orange, being careful not to include any of the white pith.
Mix the mascarpone, strawberries and orange zest gently together.
Spread this filling mixture on the tortillas, fold and coat well with icing sugar on both sides.
Heat a dry frying pan until very hot, then cook the tortillas for a few seconds on each side until the icing sugar is browned and slightly caramelized.
Serve immediately.


MascarponeWhat Is It?
Although widely referred to as ‘mascarpone cheese’ and usually taken to be a cream cheese, mascarpone is not a cheese at all but actually a kind of crème fraiche (ie cream that has been thickened by lactic fermentation).

Where Does It Come From?
It came from Italy originally but, like crème fraiche, is now well known throughout Europe.

Where Can I Get It?
Mascarpone is widely available under a range of brand names, from specialist food stores and supermarkets. Like crème fraiche (and yogurt) you could also make your own, using a little of a good brand as a starter.

What Can I Do With It?
It is best known as an ingredient in the popular Italian dessert, tiramisu (‘pick-me-up’), where it is layered with sponge fingers, coffee, coffee or almond liqueur and chocolate or cocoa powder. However, like crème fraiche, it is a versatile ingredient – and mixes especially well with fresh summer berries and any poached fruit.

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