Tag Archives: Recipe

The next generation…

I have now for the past couple of years been asked by my daughters school to teach a Masterclass to year 10 Food Tech students. To try and give them a bit of realism and give them some tips and ideas on food preparation in a professional kitchen.

So this last week I duly arrived at Maidstone Girls Grammar School to prepare and teach a class of 20 students the intricacies of boning a chicken, making a new potato and spinach terrine and then finally having been given the “water” chocolate mousse recipe by Damian Allsop I felt it was of sufficient interest to also get them making this.

It was a packed day as I started off by showing them how to joint a chicken and stuffing its French trimmed breast ready for roasting and serving with a wild mushroom ragout.  The making of the terrine (a quiche without the pastry basically) and then presenting two finished plates to illustrate some presentation ideas.

Well I was impressed their teacher Mrs Meek was keen to give each girl a whole chicken to work with as this was no small cost. So as they all settled into first quickly making their own terrines and then boning their chickens there was a great deal of grimacing and  squeamish face pulling as they were made to handle the chickens. It is a sad state that we have become so anaesthetized by handling fresh unprepared foods so much. They did a remarkable job some obviously better than others but overall they all managed to produce a boned stuffed and rolled breast of chicken.

With the terrines now out of the oven and cooling down we then had chance to quickly knock up some Irish soda bread as well. There was not a spare 5 minutes to be had as I had set them a deadline of 12:30 to serve up the terrine and then the chicken so they could all sit down and eat together.

Well they just about did it… the classroom looked a bit like a bomb had hit it but overall it was a success and they all seemed to like the terrine and the “monster” sized chicken breasts also seemed to get devoured! The bread was a triumph apart from a couple of students who managed to forget that all important addition of bicarbonate of soda to act as the rising agent! I guess the reading of the recipe will be high on the agenda next time!

So fed and rested (a bit) the afternoon session kicked off with the chocolate dessert. We firstly had to blow up small water bomb balloons to act as the mould to make little chocolate cups that we could then use as a casing for the finished mousse. This required a large pot of chocolate melted and tempered ready for the balloons to be dipped and left to harden. I had warned them if the chocolate was too hot they had a tendency to explode! This they duly did on several occasions but overall we managed to get 20 plus balloons chilling!

The mousse was then started by melting chocolate over a saucepan of hot water (bain marie) and the egg whites were whipped to soft peak meringues with some added sugar and the chocolate was then emulsified with some water and agar agar mix. This all then combined ensured the mousse was light and the absence of cream means a much cleaner flavour. The girls all did an amazing job as it was all a bit unfamiliar and the cries of “I don’t like dark chocolate” were turned to “OMG this is a bit of alright” As I dished out some Damian Allsop water ganache chocolates to them all to sample and I showed them how to plate up the mousse and garnish. One girl presented a truly magnificent example that had a true “Faberge Look” about it and it even garnered praise from the man himself Damian Allsop via Twitter when he tweeted a few days later.

@emmamurphy_98: Well done to you too!! I wish i was there, but it looks like @MrHariCovert has it well under control ;-)

As the girls departed with their extra mousses for their family to taste at home and we tidied up and packed away I reflected they had done an amazing job in the time given. It was good to see them not only embrace a task they viewed with trepidation but also thoroughly enjoy foods and products they were unfamiliar with.

So next year will be a new challenge and we hope a new set of budding cooks will step up to the challenges we set them.

The recipes used can be found via the following links

Warm New Potato & Spinach Terrine with Chorizo Dressing

Irish Soda Bread

Chicken Breast with A Wild Mushroom Stuffing & Wild Mushroom Ragout

Damian Allsops “Water” Chocolate Mousse

They came, they learned and they conquered…

photo (65)So that is our first series of Cookery Lessons done and dusted here at Hari HQ. We had a blast and it was as educational for me as it was for those taking part – at least I hope so…

The idea was to offer some basic culinary techniques to give the novice and nervous cooks a little more confidence and also some of our secrets. We have some now rather popular features on our menus and I am always keen to share them.

So we decided to hold some rather exclusive little lessons – how to bone a chicken  and the making of a stock followed by using the jointed bird in a simple dish and the stock used to make a soup.

We also made our now somewhat infamous “Moodley’s” Beer Bread and also our rather moreish porridge oat biscuits to go with a simple selection of cheeses.

What might seem simple for me proves challenging for others but the main thing I tried to do was to de-mystify it all and illustrate cooking is not hard!

What is most important beside the right ingredients is to put it simply just good organisation. So many cooks and chefs for that matter overcomplicate things so much that is when things can so easily wrong!

So our students got well into is with some basic knife skills…the cornerstone of any good cook is how they handle their tools of the trade and so many fail to learn this. Practice make perfect and learning these basics is vital.

Jamie Oliver illustrates this well here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGQltxIipFg

There are plenty of others on the web so get surfing.

The jointing of a chicken was slightly more of a challenge and what seemed more amusing was how squeamish people are about holding and touching the meat! I guess we have become anesthetised by ready portioned and pre packed food! Still they all managed it and if they have all now forgotten about it this little video on the BBC website should refresh their memories

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/techniques/jointing_chicken

It was a busy lesson what with making the stock, soup, biscuits and bread but as we sat down to eat the labours of the morning it became clear to me that to make it easier you need to have the confidence and belief in the skills you have and well one attendee Michelle texted me later the same day after her lesson to say the following…

“I can’t thank you enough – had such an amazing time – laughed at my knife skills and touching a chicken let alone boning it. Amazing”

The recipes for each of the dishes (apart from the chicken) can be found by clicking each link

Porridge Oat Biscuits

Moodleys Beer Bread

Curried Parsnip Soup

Pea & Curry Soup

If you are looking to purchase some chef knives I can recommend the following site for a next day delivery.

http://www.nisbets.co.uk/2/Kitchen-Chefs-Knives/c01c02.r10.1

You only need to purchase a few but it will be a great investment and remember to keep practising. I am just putting final touches to the next dates so watch this space!

Happy Cooking – Hari Covert

Shhh…. “Covert” cookery secrets revealed

This has been something we have been keen to do for sometime…so I thought we would take the plunge and see if we could set the ball in motion this side of Christmas.

I have decided to offer some rather exclusive cookery lessons that will I hope encourage the novice cooks out there to give it a go and also have some fun at the same time.

For three days on 17th 18th & 19th December and then 10th & 11th January 2013 I will be offering the following days as what I am calling “Covert Secrets… revealed”

We will start at 9:30am and finish at circa 12:30pm when we will all sit down to a meal of what you have been busily preparing.

The idea is to give you an insight into some of the dishes we cook and serve at our Hari nights but also show you some tricks and tips to you budding cooks. It would ideally suit the novice cook but all are welcome as we will start with the basics.

●          Chopping and Knife skills… the cornerstone of any decent kitchen

●          Boning a Chicken and preparing a stuffed breast ready to make into finished dish.

          Gratin Dauphinoise – a simple version in a flash

          Making a stock – one of the building blocks of cooking

          Hari’s Porridge Oat Biscuits for Cheese

          Making a home-made soup with a fresh bread roll.

It will be a full “hands on” lesson and all recipes will be provided to take away with you.

There will be just three spaces each day and the price for this unique event will be £75 per person.

This will include your own apron (as a memento of your day) to take away, recipe sheets and a three course lunch (including soft drinks) after your lesson…

This could make an ideal Christmas gift for a loved one…?

We are also hoping to make these lessons a regular event and if you are interested in taking part then please just fill out the booking form below and tick the future dates box. We will then contact you to discuss further.

Pollen Street Social….a review

Well it seems like I have been doing a fair bit of eating out recently and well the visit to Pollen Street Social the Mayfair eatery that is owned and operated by British chef Jason Atherton was the result of my winning a competition run by Love the Garden web site and my Leek Terrine recipe.

So how do we spend the prize of £200 in restaurant vouchers – Well we decided to head to this place and with Mrs HC have a no expense spared lunch. I have to declare I did go back in last November with some chef friends and we had an amazing if slightly more alcohol fuelled lunch that was to put it mildly “awesome”.

This time with Mrs HC it was slightly more sedate but nonetheless an equally memorable and accomplished gastronomic event. I would like to state now the booking process was well handled…not always the case… we gave them plenty of warning and two days beforehand they called to confirm we still wanted our table. We then duly turned up at the requested time and Mrs HC in her electric buggy was handled with efficient aplomb, concern and professionalism  for her comfort.

Settled straight to our table we relaxed with a couple of aperitif’s that started to make Mrs HC and myself on our empty stomachs just a little squiffy! With some lovely fresh bread and then nibbles of some large marinated green olives and a über smooth puree of salt cod we settled down to peruse the menu.

We were spoilt for choice and could not decide… always a good sign. The set priced menu at £25.50 for three course seems a bargain. I had discussed this with a foodie friend who has been many times told me that Jason often uses this menu to trial out new dishes for the main menu and tweak his ideas. We cogitated, decided and then changed our minds as we saw plates of food wander past on their way to other tables!

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As we supped the aperitif’s and then finally made our decision Mrs HC went with a set priced menu choice, to start she chose the scallop with cauliflower cheese puree and dill oil. I went for the Cornish Crab Vinaigrette, Nashi Pear, cauliflower and a sweet ‘n’ sour dressing and peanut powder.

We relaxed and surveyed the room with its simple modern decor, noise levels began to rise as the place filled up and I have to say this is the one criticism I have of it all. It can get quite noisy and it made hearing what the waiting staff tried to communicate with you when they delivered your food or took an order a little hard to hear.

Having already had a fairly alcoholic aperitif we decided to go with a selection of wines by the glass with our chosen dishes and an affable and helpful sommelier arrived at the table and directed us to try some of the wide range of wines they serve by the glass. Mrs HC wanted to stick to a rose so this duly ordered I asked for guidance on the white with my crab dish and was directed to a Faustine, Comte Abbatucci, Ajaccio, Corsica  served from a Magnum bottle this light and fragrant nosed wine perfectly complimented my light delicate starter that was a work of art in both presentation and flavour combinations. Light fresh crab was sandwiched between wafer thin slices of Nashi pear and then garnished with sweet and sour marinated slices of cauliflower and a crisp dusting of peanut added another flavour dimension and texture. A great start and set me up rather well.

Mrs HC was also delighted by her scallop dish served with a flavour packed cauliflower puree and a large chunk of confit cauliflower that was flavoured with dill and some little dribbles of bright green dill oil. She quickly polished it all off and then announced for some one who is not overly keen on cauliflower she rather enjoyed that dish! Women eh…

Next we moved onto our main course dishes. Mrs HC had chosen Roasted Cornish Cod that was on the Set Menu and was to have it served with Olive oil potatoes, lemon conserve and orange grenobloise garnish. I had chosen to go with a rack of salt marsh lamb a bit of braised shoulder, creamed and spiced aubergine and a savory & black olive reduction sauce giving the whole dish a real Mediterranean feel to it.

Mrs HC was in her element with some supremely fresh cod perfectly cooked and the tangy garnish complimented the meaty textured fish perfectly and she polished if off with relish and I hardly got a taste (what I did was mighty fine)

My lamb came as requested medium rare and was an equal triumph of culinary skill and balanced flavours. The aubergine puree had a delicious flavour of roasted cumin a whole roasted baby artichoke provided both visual, textural and Mediterranean flavour to the dish and melt in the mouth lamb was perfect with the salty reduced sauce. All in all another well accomplished dish that was appreciated enjoyed and savoured! The wine choice this time by the sommelier was a  Vin de Pays d’Oc ‘Le Petit Merle aux Alouettes’, Domaine Alain Chabanon a delightful Merlot Grenache mix that went perfectly with the Lamb dish. I was therefore in seventh heaven and mellowing well!

Tables as I have said quite close together and a certain camaraderie seems to develop over your food as you covet what your neighbour is eating  as you look on with awe as something new is delivered. I had seen and impressive cheese board appear at the table next to us as we ate our mains and I had managed to persuade Mrs HC to partake of this dairy fest before we headed onto our desserts… so as we sat back and relaxed we discussed how impressed we had been so far and how this meal was rating in our top ten! It was ranking pretty high.

So our charming waitress then bought the groaning cheese board… I wish I could tell you what was on offer but it was by this time rather noisy and I struggled to hear properly all the names of the cheeses. They ranged from a selection of goats cheeses rolled in wood ash to a rather unctuous looking Epoisse to a Cheddar style cheese we were told was called Lincolnshire Poacher and a Cashel Blue from Ireland. Our selection of three were duly delivered along with some rather tasty Beer and Apple Chutney and a Spicy Piccalilli. The cheeses were top-notch and even Mrs HC enjoyed them something she is not normally known to do!

So we then perused the dessert menu and Mrs HC promptly chose an intriguingly named PBJ that was a Parfait of Cherry, a cherry jam and creamed rice puffs. I got a minuscule spoonful that tasted OK to me and was promptly told I could not try any more!

I chose the Bitter Chocolate Pave with Orange ice cream and some poached kumquat’s. A classic combination that went rather well with the sommelier chosen wine. Chocolate is hard to marry to a wine but he suggested an Ice Cider, Leduc-Piedimonte, Quebec, Canada that I have to say was a revelation and worked rather well especially with the pre desert that was delivered to us. A small glass filled with a pineapple granite topped with a lychee foam and coulis of passion fruit. Mrs HC declared it to be heavenly it certainly was a very good palate cleanser and much admired.

So with a final flourish we partook of an espresso and breakfast tea served with some rather yummy financier’s cakes and a little box was bought to the table and as draws were pulled open to reveal white chocolate coated almonds and hazelnut pralines and an assortment of flavoured macaroons.

This was an amazing meal and we will rate this as one of our very best… total bill came to just under our £200 allowance… we had supped and dined as much as we had wanted and as we left the place we made sure the man himself was well aware we had been blown away as we had a guard of honour of his kitchen staff and kitchen porters clearing down from the lunch service as we had to leave by the kitchen entrance(the only way by Mrs HC’s electric buggy)… the best way to arrive and leave I have to say!

Cheers

Hari Covert

Leeks, Leeks, Glorious Leeks…

Well it is almost a year since we posted a favourite recipe of ours using that lovely new season veg… the humble Leek. Symbol of Wales and well a good all round versatile vegetable.

We were alerted to a recent competition calling for our favoured leek recipe so thought we would enter the Pressed Leek Terrine as ours… Have you got something better?

If you do you could win a £200 restaurant dining voucher for a good night out!  Check it out here

Runners Up could win a copy of Kerstin Rogers SupperClub Cookbook

We feel our Leek Terrine is a great dish that can be adapted any number of ways and styles. Perfect for vegetarians or with the addition of other items can be quite exotic! Might just have to see what else we could come up with to use those lovely Leeks in again!!!

Good Luck

Moodley’s Beer Bread… the recipe

The recent dinner at the Olive Stores in Brenchley was a hit and the Beer Bread we served with the main course seemed to go down well.

As promised to the those attending I have put togther the following recipe that you can view here

Please feel free to share and your comments are always welcomed…

Hari C

PS… Feb Menu coming soon so watch this space

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin

Well now this will be the start of a few posts on the subject as we are planning some upcoming events that will feature the “Nectar of Gods” as some like to call it… I have been experimenting today as I found a rather simple recipe on the net for a bread incorporating Beer!

I was recently having a look round a Kentish Brewery by the name of Moodley’s – based on a farm near to Penshurst they are a micro (small) brewery that produce a range of bottle conditioned ales. More about them on some later posts but suffice to say I had a bottle of each of their current beers to try. I had a bit of their Toad Bitter left so thought I would try the following recipe!

It was a very simple one and I have to say the end result was a big hit.

Beer Bread…

375g of Self Raising Flour

3 tablespoons of Caster Sugar

330ml of the chosen beer

Mixed together as a batter and poured into a very well-greased bread tin produced one rather crusty sweet and yeast smelling loaf with a good crust after 45 minutes baking!

The beer I used as I said was the dregs of two beers I had been tasting – predominately Toad Rock Bitter and then a splash of Penshurst Pleasure both from Moodley’s Brewery. The dregs of the Pantiles Porter will now end up in a Chocolate Porter cake I am planning to make next but I will be paying the brewery another visit to restock supplies just as soon as I can… you should check them out as they are really all rather something special and they have quite a story to tell and worthy of wider recognition to a discerning public…

We will be doing our bit on that but more about that… a little bit later

Maybe Fun… Maybe not…the aftermath

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Well this months dinners were named “Maybe fun Maybe not”… well we can say definitely they were fun… I hope our guests felt the same… we certainly had a fair few “Newbies” this month who came to the dinners …

We had one couple keen to try us as she writes a food blog about her eating out experiences – I do hope her pictures came out all OK as I managed to forget to take that many!!! It sounded as though she was on an eating fest that weekend with a meal out in London planned for the next day. I look forward to reading her comments.

Another couple had motored from across the border in Surrey as she had seen the piece on the BBC’s One Show about Supper Clubs that had fired her enthusiasm to try one. Having found out about us via a “Google” search she and her partner braved the M25 to visit us and we hope we have inspired her now sufficiently to give it a go herself!

Another couple were nearby neighbours who live within spitting distance who on booking also wanted to check if we had sufficient parking in case they wanted to drive!!! Glad to say they managed the 50ft walk and left their car on their own driveway!!!

However, on the Friday we had some guests who we can say have been our loudest table yet…it always amazes me how we seem to get a buzz from the room at each dinner with the mix of guests we get – all ages and complete strangers…

This six had been to the “Right Royal Feast” and had booked again straight after this dinner – they certainly should have come with a decibel warning! There seemed to be an immediate buzz to the room and the noise levels only briefly dimmed when they had food in front of them. We normally find the evening mellows as drinks are consumed and food is eaten but this table seemed to go against the grain as they got louder and louder!!!

My front of house helper Julia (not sure why guests think she is Mrs HC?) had quite a challenge when they departed as she reminded them about our neighbours and “noise levels” I have to say we did check the next day with both sets if they were disturbed and am glad to say they were both fine. I promise when these guests book again (they are welcome to in case they are reading this and think they are now banned!) we will distribute cotton wool to neighbours and other guests just as a safety measure… it was certainly good to see so many really enjoying themselves!

So we served up another seasonal dinner which we were glad to say included two ingredients I love… Asparagus and English Strawberries… not together mind you. The asparagus kicked the meal off with a warm Goats Cheese and Asparagus flan served with dressed salad leaves. A simple light starter that got tucked into with relish and plates came back clean.

Next we served a roasted pork fillet that was placed on a bed of beans with chorizo in a spicy tomato chilli sauce and a then a beer and caraway scented jus. It was all served with some simple boiled Jersey Royals… again plates came back cleared.

Our cheese selection once again used our local cheddar Winterdale Shaw and some little pots of our Banana & Date Chutney.

The Porridge Oat biscuits still seem to cause a stir so much so I have now divulged how to make them so please check out the recipe here

Final flourish was a classic dessert of Strawberry Meringue. I have to say Mrs HC has become something of a demon on the meringue making front and she was tasked with the making of fifty plus meringues. She has managed to perfect the technique of soft chewy centres… I’m drooling writing about them…

The strawberries came from our favourite supplier Mill Farm in Marden. They supply Wimbledon so I’m led to believe. They have a very special flavour and really do epitomise what is essential good about an English Summer! We served the meringues with whipped double cream, a scoop of clotted cream ice cream and strawberries with a drizzle of strawberry coulis topped with chopped pistachio nuts all completed the creation.

Again plates returned clean and we served coffee with our homemade chocolates completing what had been once again a sell out round of dinners.

It definitley was a fun filled weekend and now with this surprisingly warm weather we move forward to our next dinners which we have named “Too hot to handle” – A Summer BBQ…. let’s hope the sun continues to shine and the rain stays away?

Cheers

Hari

Gruel like you have never had…

Porridge Oat Biscuits plus Banana and Date Chutney

Well it seems to be a bit of a talking point these days with my special porridge biscuits that I always serve with cheeses. They have become something of a signature dish but I cannot claim to have invented them but adapted from a similar style of biscuit that I saw at a friends Michelin starred restaurant in Manchester a few years ago.

I thought I would share the recipe as it is suprisingly very simple and just needs to be made a bit in advance.

You will need some baking sheets covered with baking parchment as basically you make a normal batch of porridge made with milk… I normally use fresh semi skimmed milk and once cooked I then throw in a generous handful of sea salt (sel de guerande) mixed with some ground freshly roasted szechaun peppercorns. This salt and pepper mix once mixed in produces a nice salty and fragrant flavour.

I pour the porridge out onto the baking parchment and then using a palette knife spread it as thinly as possible onto the parchment and if you have time leave it to cool and dry naturally for a shortwhile then do so.

If pushed for time then place the trays straight into a preheated oven 120 to 150 degrees centigrade for 40-50 minutes. Check them after twenty or so minutes as if beginning to harden you can then remove the biscuit sheet from the parchment and turn to aid the drying process. They need to turn a light golden colour and to be totally dry and once they have reached this stage just leave them to cool before breaking them into shards. Store in an airtight box until required, they will keep easily for a couple of weeks if fully dried out.

So as you can see a very simple and easy recipe. They have become something of a favourit here in the “Covert” household especially with a soft, runny and smelly cheeses so enjoy…

Cheers

Hari