My husband and one of his best friends were born the same year only a day apart and love to celebrate their birthdays together. His pal and his wife are always at their home on Cape Cod in July, so everyone gathers there for the festivities.
We always steam lobsters for the main course and order a big cake for dessert, but we vary the appetizers and side dishes year to year.
Aware that both our husbands love steak, our hostess added some "turf" to our "surf" menu by preparing delicious beef kebabs as starters.
She skewered cubes of boneless sirloin (coated in a spicy rub) with juicy nectarine wedges and lime slices, then quickly cooked them until the meat was rosy pink inside and the fruit slightly charred.
After returning home, I decided to serve the kebabs as a main course rather than as an opener, and was delighted to discover how easy they were to assemble and how quickly they could be grilled.
Betty Rosbottom writes for Tribune Media Services.
KAREN CHALFEN'S SPICY BEEF, NECTARINE AND LIME KEBABS
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro, divided use
2 pounds boneless sirloin, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
Olive oil for brushing the kebabs and for the grill
3 to 4 ripe (but not too soft) nectarines
2 limes for slicing
4 long wooden skewers soaked for 30 minutes in water or 4 long metal skewers
Mix together the chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro in a medium mixing bowl large enough to hold the meat comfortably.
Add sirloin cubes and toss so that all cubes are coated well with mixture.
Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
When ready to assemble skewers and cook, oil a grill rack and arrange 4 to 5 inches from heat source. Prepare grill for a hot fire (high temperature).
Cut each nectarine into 3/4 -inch wedges (yielding about 8 wedges per piece of fruit).
Cut limes into 1/4 -inch thick rounds and cut each round in half. Assemble skewers alternating with a beef cube, a lime slice and a nectarine wedge. (You may have some nectarine wedges and lime slices left over; save for another use.) Brush skewers lightly with olive oil.
Grill, turning often so that beef and nectarines cook on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes total.
Watch carefully, as cooking time can vary depending on type of grill used. When done, beef should be pink inside and nectarines slightly charred.
Arrange skewers on a platter and sprinkle with remaining cilantro.
Per serving: 358 calories, 47 grams protein, 10 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 19 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 83 milligrams cholesterol, 425 milligrams sodium.
Recipe analysis provided by registered dietitian Jodie Shield.