Spring is for lovers SuperNatural Food Market

Photograph courtesy of Google images.

Nigel Slater the cook and food writer has a wonderful book call The Kitchen Diaries, a year-long account of his shopping, cooking and eating on almost every day of one year.
Week by week, month by month, season by season he talks about ingredients and recipes as they occur according to moods and circumstances. When it comes to St. Valentines day, he says, “I won’t eat out on Valentine’s Day, every restaurant filled with couples talking in whispers, the usual buzz and clatter reduced to a muffled sigh.”

Let’s not forget overpriced and all too often inferior food. Nothing romantic about that. “Home is the place to be. More than that, there is something about cooking a special meal for someone you love that seems to mean more than simply sliding your credit card to a waiter.”
At SuperNatural, we wholeheartedly agree. It is a chance to hit the local market, buy sumptuous, fresh ingredients, make delicious food, a decadent chocolate dessert and add great wine, Champagne, candles and music. In other words go all out, why not? There’s nothing half as good. Celebrate love and be happy. Any excuse, we say.

These are simple recipes and have impressive flavours in tune with the amorous Venusian vibe. The linguine dish and chocolate pot are perfect for Valentine’s Day, as they are very pleasurable but not sluggishly filling. Pair with a good white wine, Prosecco or Champagne.
The salad and lamb makes a great Paddy’s Day lunch or dinner. Donegal Fresh Fish at the market every Saturday sell beautiful fish and seafood, so you can decide to substitute mussels or prawns or simply bake fish, if it pleases you.
Likewise Coolanowle’s lamb is organic, grass-fed and naturally high in omegas, as well as being tender and flavoursome. Pat is happy to bring any cut you wish. You’ll find all the fresh and pantry ingredients you need there every week, no matter what you cook. Enjoy the art of eating which depends on high quality, flavour and trusted sources!

Nigel Slater’s Linguine Alla Vongole
Small clams in their shells – approx 500g
A glass of white wine or vermouth
Linguine or Spaghettini – 300g
Garlic – 2 cloves
Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons
Dried chilli chopped or crushed – a good pinch
Flat-leaf parsley – a small bunch

Scrub the clams, throwing out any that are chipped or wide open. Leave them to soak in cold water for half an hour. This will clear some of their inherent grit.
Put a large pan of water on to boil. Drain the clams and tip them into a medium-sized pan set over a moderate heat. Put in the white wine and cover them tightly with a lid and after two minutes check on their progress. If most of the shells are open, turn off the heat. If not, give them another minute or longer.
Generously salt the now-boiling water put on earlier and lower in the pasta. Meanwhile, lift the clams from their liquor and pick out the flesh from most of the shells. Just keep a few whole in their shells for each dish. Discard the rest of the shells. Reserve all the cooking liquor.
Peel the garlic and slice it thinly, then let it soften in a tablespoon or so of the olive oil over a low heat. It must not colour. Finely chop one or two dried chilli pods or crush them in a pestle and mortar, stir in the dried chilli, then roughly chop the parsley leaves and add them. Let them cook briefly, then take the cooking liquor from the clams and let it bubble down for a minute.
Test the pasta for readiness; you want it to be tender but on the tacky side. About nine minutes should do it. Drain the pasta, tip it into the reduced clam liquor, clams and seasonings add a little black pepper and pour in the remaining olive oil, then toss gently and serve in warm shallow bowls.

Hot Chocolate Puddings
These are essentially baked chocolate mousses, but the egg combined with heat raises them to soufflé lightness that keeps them fluffy on the outside and molten within. It is vital to make these with the best chocolate you can get your hands on and we recommend Vivani’s 70% Cooking chocolate or their 85% bar, no soya or its derivatives in it. Seriously good cacao.
You can add a chocolate hazelnut spread that gives it a lingering nutty depth. Again we recommend one without the cheap ingredients such as the Essential brand. Or better yet, make your own combining Biona hazelnut butter, maple syrup, and raw cacao powder and a little vanilla essence. This way you can be sure you are skipping ruinous hydrogenated cheap vegetable oils, sugar and soya that is unnecessary.
Isn’t it wonderful that when you use the proper raw ingredients that not only are these desserts a taste pleasure but also a superfood, as good chocolate, minus the usual commercial additions to it, is very high in antioxidants, magnesium, iron, calcium and polyphenols for your skin and heart. This recipe makes four but you can eat the other two the next day or be greedy.

200g Vivani or other very fine dark chocolate
100g Caster sugar
3 eggs 60g Butter
2 heaped tablespoons Chocolate hazelnut spread


Set oven at 200°C. Lightly butter four small ramekins or oven-proof cups (or two larger ones) Break chocolate into rough pieces and put it in a basin suspended over a pan of gently simmering water. Let it melt without stirring. Just poke any unmelted chocolate down into the liquid.
Put the sugar into a food mixer or bowl and use a handheld whisk, separate the eggs and add yolks to sugar and beat until thick and creamy. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until airy and as stiff as they can get without any extra sugar added.
Stir the butter into the chocolate, leave to melt and then gently stir in the chocolate hazelnut spread. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar, then carefully fold in the beaten egg whites with a metal spoon.
Take care not to overmix, but ensure you don’t have any floating drifts of egg white. Scoop into your vessels and place on a baking sheet for 12-15 minutes until risen. The tops should be cracked and centres still slightly wobbly. If you open one too early, it can go back into the over without too much harm done. An option is to dust with a little icing sugar and / or serve with pouring or whipped cream.

St Patrick’s Day Lamb and Salad
Irish spring lamb is one of the great delicacies of our country and it signifies the welcome end of the winter and hails incoming spring. A very healthy meat, no other one possesses the tenderness of roasted young lamb. It makes a wonderful celebratory dish and has a lovely rich depth of flavour that pairs well some fresh salads and good wine. This is our favourite way to cook it.
This is the incomparable Marcella Hazan’s Italian recipe. Minimal fuss, just sprigs of rosemary, garlic and seasoning and some white wine and a long, slow cook in the oven or on the top plate. It will bring out all its flavour, as well as leaving you free to prepare salads and some roast veg, which you can pop into the oven near the end.
Our butcher at the market, Pat from Coolanowle farm, sells their own organically-reared lamb from Carlow. This means the animals have not been given any feed, but are pasture-fed and not treated with antibiotics or other medications that would breach the organic standards. He will happily provide you with any cut you request, as well as some great conversation. He especially likes literature or any current affairs – try him!

Roast lamb with White Wine
800-900g / nearly 2kg Spring lamb preferably shoulder
2 tablespoons Avocado oil / olive/ sunflower
15g or 0.5oz Butter
3 Whole peeled garlic cloves
A sprig of fresh rosemary cut into 2⁄3 pieces
Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
150ml Dry white wine.

Use a large, heavy-bottomed or enamelled cast iron pot or large baking dish to roast meat in. If you don’t have one that can accomodate lamb whole, cut it up into two or more smaller pieces. Wash in cold running water and pat dry with a clean tea towel.
Put the oil and butter in the pot, we recommend avocado oil as it takes a high heat without having an altering flavour. Ditto macadamia oil which is expensive but truly wonderful for high temperatures. (You should never heat olive / sunflower or most vegetable oils but we include it if you insist.)
Turn the heat to medium-high and when the butter foam begins to subside, put in the lamb, the garlic and the rosemary. Brown the meat thoroughly all over, particularly the skin side. Check the garlic: if you find it becoming very dark, remove it from the bottom of the pan and place it on top of the lamb.
Add the salt, pepper and wine. Let the wine simmer briskly for about 15 or 20 seconds, turning the meat once or twice, then adjust the heat down to around 150-160°C depending on how hot your oven is, to cook for about 1½ – 2 hours or until the lamb is cooked all the way through and begins to come off the bone. Turn the meat from time to time while it is cooking and if the liquid in the pot becomes insufficient replenish it with two or three tablespoons of water.
When done, transfer to a serving plate. Tip the pan to spoon off all but a small amount of fat. Add two tablespoons of water, raise the heat to high and while the water boils away use a wooden spoon to scrape loose the cooking residues from the bottom and sides. Pour the pot juices over the lamb and serve at once.

Tomato and onion salad
This salad is one of Nigel Slater’s desert island dishes and it was this recipe being brought to our attention that prompted the return to his Kitchen Diaries and the recipes above for Valentine’s Day.
This salad would be the perfect companion for the lamb, as well as the fact that at SuperNatural we believe you should eat salad everyday. So make it interesting while simple in this case a blend of vegetables with certain herbs to enliven. It is a straightforward mixture of everyday onion, tomato and avocado, but what makes it shine are the pickled spices used in the dressing. The lemon juice, wine vinegar, coriander seeds, mustard and dill bring a Scandinavian note, a freshness and crunch to produce a salad of pure, clean flavours to revive and invigorate.

Serves 4
2 Red onions
200ml Lemon juice
50ml White wine vinegar
1 tsp Yellow mustard seed
1 tsp Coriander seeds
10 Black peppercorns
3 Tomatoes medium sized
160g Small plum tomatoes
150g Cherry tomatoes
2 Ripe avocados
A handful of dill
4 tbsp Olive oil

Peel the onions, slice thinly into rings then put them in a shallow dish. Mix the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard and coriander seeds and the black peppercorns. Pour over the onions and set aside for a couple of hours.
Thickly slice the tomatoes and put them in a bowl. Halve, stone and peel the avocados, then cut them into thick segments. Chop the dill. Gently mix the pickled onion, tomatoes, avocado, dill and olive oil together and serve.

www.supernatural.ie Every Saturday 9-3.30pm St Andrew’s Resource Centre Pearse St.