Stacks Image 20950
East meets West in these seasonal recipes. The humble potato and tender neck fillet of lamb in a warming and satisfying Irish Stew. Pomegranate molasses and rich spices for the Muhammara dip. I hope you will enjoy them both during these winter months. E.L.
Muhammara (Serves 4)

This middle eastern dip uses pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika and cumin to give it a wonderful depth and richness. It is easy to make in a food processor but can be made by hand for a slightly chunkier version. Pomegranate molasses is available in most supermarkets. It is a versatile ingredient, being both sweet and sharp. Used sparingly it can be substituted for balsamic vinegar, or honey and lemon in dressings, dips, bbq sauces & marinades, or to boost the flavour in meat, poultry or roasted vegetable dishes.


2 red peppers, halved, seeds and stalks removed
80g walnut pieces, lightly toasted
1 large clove garlic, crushed
40g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tblsps pomegranate molasses
1 tsp smoked paprika
pinch chilli flakes
½ - 1 tsp ground cumin
2 tblsps olive oil
Juice of half lemon
salt
To serve, pitta bread, toasted


Preheat the oven to 220˚C. Line a baking tray with lightly oiled foil. Place the peppers skin-side up and roast for approximately 15 minutes or until the pepper skins have bubbled and blackened. Remove from the oven and, using a pair of tongs, place the peppers in a bowl and cover with cling film. Alternatively place them in large ‘ziploc’ bag and seal. This allows the peppers to sit in their own steam and makes them easy to peel. When the peppers are cool enough to handle. Peel off and discard the charred black skins. Place the roasted peppers into a food processor with all the remaining ingredients, except the olive oil. Process, adding the olive oil in a slow stream. Check the seasoning, adding lemon juice and salt to taste. Toast the pitta breads, split open then toast the insides. Cut into triangles and serve with the dip.
Irish Stew (Serves 4-6)

This Richard Corrigan recipe is easy to make and delicious to eat. Two different types of potato are used - one floury, to thicken the stew and the other waxy, to add a chunkiness to the finished dish. Serve in little bowls for a stand up get-together or with steamed savoy cabbage, cavolo nero or kale, for a warming sit-down supper.

900g lamb neck fillets
1 litre hot lamb or vegetable stock
450g floury potatoes, such as King Edward, peeled & 450g waxy potatoes, such as Charlotte peeled
450g carrots, peeled
1 onion, peeled and thickly sliced
2 tblsps pearl barley
salt and black pepper
a few sprigs of thyme
chopped parsley, to serve


Cut the lamb into chunks (bear in mind that they will shrink) and put in a heavy-based saucepan. Pour in the hot stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the carrots into chunks a little smaller than the pieces of lamb, and cut the potatoes (keeping the two types separate) into pieces the same size as the lamb.

Add the carrots, onion, floury potatoes (not the waxy ones) and the pearl barley to the pan, season with salt and pepper and simmer very gently for another 10 - 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are beginning to break up. Then add the waxy potatoes and the thyme and simmer very gently for a further 15 - 20 minutes or until the lamb is very tender.

The floury potatoes will have broken down to thicken the sauce, while the waxy potatoes will keep their shape. Remove from the heat, cover and leave, without stirring, for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning, then serve, sprinkled generously with chopped parsley.