All posts by Mr Hari Covert

I am a passionate foodie, former chef and also ex hotel & restaurant inspector. I have been immersed in food for over forty years so its been a lifetimes work...

Achieve More @yourhome…

We have now just completed yet another @yourhome dinner and we must say we think it went well rather well…

It’s always a challenge to cook in someone else’s home as there is the vagaries of a strange cooker and different surroundings… but as ever Hari loves a challenge and this was an ask that we could not refuse. So the party was a birthday celebration for a super fit (ask her about her press-ups challenge!) and climbing enthusiast Ruth Malone. I had cooked a couple of times for her sister Hannah and they are both “Twuddlers” who have been very supportive of my little enterprise.

Well, after having spent a week at our home in France I returned laden with some special goodies for their chosen menu…Ruth had left the menu choices pretty much carte blanche to me with the only proviso they had fairly conservative tastes so nothing too off the wall!!!

Well we kicked off the evening in her home with some canapés that are very much my favourites of the moment. I had made some Parmesan Lollipops that with the addition of some caraway seeds made a good visual impact, some mini toasts topped with black olive tapenade provided a nice salty Mediterranean memory and finally shot glasses with a warm pea & curry soup.

One of the guests (Alex) had previously joked he was expecting a KFC meal from Ruth… so we duly obliged him by serving the lollipops in a KFC meal bag… the lengths I had to go to purloin a bag was fun… and another story!!!

We then served the first course a light delicate salmon quenelle mousse that had been poached and served with a warm vinaigrette sauce made with extra virgin olive oil and more unusually a light Cameroon Mango vinegar. The addition of some finely chopped peppers and diced mango and chopped chives provided a stunning visual impact to the salsa, this was well received as plates came back licked clean.

Next we served a dish that had been well received at our last dinners a chicken breast roulade that was stuffed with spinach, toasted pine nuts and feta cheese. We then poached the breasts in a light stock and served the roulade with sherry sauce infused with sun-dried tomatoes. We served this with a creamy gratin dauphinoise and some green beans wrapped in pancetta

So as the meal progressed we had got to grips with the kitchen and we served our next course a selection of specially selected and imported cheeses from our local fromagerie (Chez Juliette Gauby) in France… having just returned on the Wednesday it meant we could import some more unusual and locally difficult to obtain cheeses.

We had managed to find a wonderfully ripe Vacherin Mont D’or for me a king of cheeses… this unpasteurised milk cheese is a winter speciality that has a wonderful unctuous flavour best served with a spoon!!! We then also served a cheese made by the cheese shop owner called a “Bleu de rancio”… the blue is a Bleu d’Auvergne and then raisins marinated in a local rancio sherry like wine that is mixed with a cream cheese and layered – it has inspired me to have a go to copy with Hari’s Buttons as served at some of our previous dinners but the real McCoy was very well received.

We had a fresh goats cheese from the Sancerre region creamy and with a light acidic tang and for our hard cheese we had a classic Tomme from the Pyrenees that had been made from the mixed milk of cows, sheep’s and goat and well matured to produce a really strong flavoured cheese. All served with our classic porridge oat biscuits seasoned with sea salt and Szechwan peppercorns.

To complete the meal we then served a dish of grilled slices of fresh pineapple that was then marinated in a syrup of honey and cardamom that with the addition of some ruby red grapefruit segments, blood orange segments and candid peel provided a sweet and citric balance of flavours…With this we served a scoop of coconut ice cream.

Ruth had warned me she was somewhat lacking in the plate department…so we also used our own plates, which have a bit of history… in fact one of my best buys… Robert Niederer designed Hergiswil glass plates from Switzerland. I bought them some fifteen years ago direct from the factory and they are only ever used for special occasions… we felt Ruth’s birthday celebration was such a worthy occasion!

Ruth’s partner Nathan had arranged a celebratory cake that arrived with the men folk singing “Happy Birthday” to her…

It was a very scrummy and moist Carrot Cake topped with four vegetable garnishes… a picture to behold and I presented some homemade chocolate ganache and some Spanish chocolate & almond Turron.

As I left the party with them finishing off the copious wine and leftover cake!!! As I cleared away our debris I managed to reflect upon the evening… It’s always a pleasure to cook and serve a meal to an appreciative audience and we think this one had loved their very exclusive event… so if you find it difficult to make a dinner date chez Hari then why not consider booking Hari for your own exclusive @yourhome event!

Cheers

Hari

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Know your onions…?

Well we have just got back from a short break at our home in France and we had some stunning weather and some good food as well.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how both the French and Spanish (our nearby neighbours) love a festival centred round food. Our own village has an Apricot festival in early July that sees eating competitions to a plethora of apricot related products for sale.

We found ourselves across the border in nearby Spain last Sunday and managed to seek out one of many festivals in this region dedicated to the homage paid to a very seasonal ingredient. It was the humble spring onion known locally as the calçot – the village of Vila – Sacra located between Figeuras and Roses was awash with people enjoying not only the sunshine but some great local produce… everything from assorted stalls selling local preserved meat sausages to local cheeses and even a stunning stall with an abundance of salted fish and even a stall with a mobile bread oven baking wood fired oven bread to order… talk about passionate with food.

It was however the stalls selling newspaper wrapped grilled calçots (5) that came with a little pot of romesco sauce, slice of bread and a either a bottle of water or glass of local red wine for the paltry sum of 4 euros that attracted a steady stream of people… the brightly coloured paper bibs also provided some extra colour to the event and the wonderful sweet tasting onions with their smoky flavour was a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

It was fascinating to see the event was so well attended with all ages and it seemed to be a real community event. I think it is something we could with a bit more of here in the UK. Perhaps I should launch a festival in honour of the green bean… now there’s an idea!

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Game on… February 2011

Game On Menu…

Welcome aperitif and nibbles

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Wood Pigeon Breast served “Two ways”

With a Green Bean and Kent Cobnut Salad

and a Chinese Black Bean Sauce

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Butternut Squash Risotto topped with pan-fried Venison Liver

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Supreme of Pheasant with a cider jus bacon and baby onions

Braised Red Cabbage

New Potatoes

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Chocolate Cardamom Bread & Butter Pudding

served with a glass of dessert wine

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Coffee & Petit Fours

Phew… that’s our January dinners done and dusted and well it has been a bit of a busy month for us… Firstly we did a special dinner for the winners of the Slave Auction that took place in Tunbridge Wells last July…. The Wilkey household had bid and won dinner for four and on a cold dark January night we fulfilled our obligations and provided a dinner in their home…they chomped their way through four courses. They kicked off with a butternut squash risotto topped with scallop and chorizo and followed it with a roasted Barbary duck breast with a blackberry & red wine jus and then some Winterdale Shaw and Stichleton Cheeses with our porridge oat biscuits. Finally a decadent chocolate torte served with a red berry compote completed the meal.

Quickly following on from this I then spent a day with Robin & Carla Betts at Winterdale Shaw assisting in the production of a batch of cheeses (where some will be used later in the year at a special dinner we are planning… more on that at a later date) A 1000 litres of their morning milk straight from the cows went through the process of cheese making to produce eight 15kg cheeses… it was a labour of love and will post more details on this in the future.

So for this months dinners it was a theme of “Game” and we decided to showcase this with the use of wood pigeon, pheasant and then some rather rare but tasty Venison liver.

To kick the dinners off we served some varied nibbles, a classic black olive tapenade on toasts and some Parmesan Lollipops flavoured with black mustard seeds and caraway seeds. We also served some shot glasses of pea and curry cappuccino that seemed to go down well with a welcome glass of bucks fizz

The first course we served was a pink roasted wood pigeon breast served with a green bean and cobnut salad dressed with Kent cobnut oil and the other half of the breast we served a classic Chinese black bean sauce garnish with some pea shoots.

To follow we then served a creamy roasted butternut squash risotto that was garnished with slivers of pan fried venison liver. The liver having been soaked in milk was still slightly pink and had a great earthy flavour against the sweetness of the risotto. The liver is something of a rarity as normally it is the reserve of the Gamekeeper but my butcher EC Wilkes in Cranbrook came up trumps… it was akin to eating calves liver but slightly more earthy.

So the meat fest progressed to the main course of roasted breast of Pheasant that came garnished with bacon lardons and roasted onions and a delicate crème fraiche and cider sauce. Simply boiled new potatoes were chosen to accompany this as after such a rich meal it was felt something plain was needed and the deep ruby red braised red cabbage was the vegetable garnish.

To round it all off we then served individual warm Chocolate and Cardamom Bread & Butter puddings that had a heavenly scent of chocolate and almost as one guest commented a citrus flavour to it. Some fresh Greek yoghurt was served to cut the richness of the pud.

It was a challenging menu to prepare as so much was “a la minute” cooking and the balance of flavours and richness of the meat meant it was a challenge for diners to eat it all.. still they all seemed to manage and we now move onto our next dinners in February.

Cheers

Hari Covert

Covert by name, covert by nature

And the winner is…?

 

 

Well now, we are pleased to announce there is an upcoming event that is designed to tickle and chill your palate.

The owner of Taywell Ice Creams – Alastair Jessel based at Paddock Wood is opening his doors for a very special taste off.

Taywell Ices are creating some new flavours to enter in the 2011 Great Taste Awards. This is your chance to pass judgement & give your opinion at an organised taste off. You will also have a tour of their production facility and learn more about the making of bespoke ice creams.

The date is Wednesday March 2nd  and spaces are limited to the two time slots of 6:30pm and 7:30pm and your places can only be reserved via the Twuddle/Twuttle web site… please book your spaces here and make sure you state which time you require.

food for lovers & lovers of food…feb 2011

Well that is our February dinners done and dusted… the theme as we were close to Valentines was loosely followed and we found we had a full house on both nights and I am glad to say the challenge of a last minute cancellation was also filled quickly… The cancellation was the first one we have ever had to deal with that close to a dinner and we had already purchased food and started our prep so this meant we had to use all our means of contact to fill the space.

This web site is self built using a template on WordPress and I am by no means an expert and it is all self taught but I have recently discovered how to place a form on the site so am now trying to use these to gather information from our followers and punters… For example if you want to be made aware of a last minute cancellation why not fill out this form below and we will create a specific mail list to let you know.

I have also recently transferred my email list of addresses to an internet mail service called mail chimp… this enables me in one click to send an email that is specific to a special list and also see statistics who might have opened the email and gauge also what formats work best… again something to play with in the future and a lot less time consuming in keeping you all up to date.

The format of this site will also change slightly and I will start using the blog aspect more as it is a much quicker and an easier way of reporting what is happening and updating you all of some exciting developments that will be happening over the next few months. The pages will be more informative of what we do but effectively our home page will be the news and musings of yours truly…

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Warm Roasted Aubergine, Red Pepper & Cumin Terrine

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Chicken Breast Roulade stuffed with Spinach, Pine Nut & Feta Cheese

served with a light sherry jus.

Pommes Lyonnaise

Green Beans wrapped in pancetta

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Hari’s Selection of Cheeses with Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Roasted Rhubarb Tart with Walnut Ice Cream

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Coffee with petit fours 

 

So back to this months dinner… well we kicked off the dinners with some assorted nibbles that we think went well… the Friday night guests were served some Parmesan Lollipops that are just grated parmesan thinly spread on baking parchment and with the addition of some caraway seeds then baked. Once lightly golden and removed from the parchment and cooled they crisp up nicely and look impressive on the tables…The Saturday night guests were due the same but somehow I managed to mix my cheeses and added cheddar to the mix and when I started to bake them they went all greasy and horrible!!! So a minor alteration was made and the use of some butter puff pastry turned my cheese mix into some baked cheese Palmiers… We also on both nights served a little shot glass of mushroom cappuccino, simply a homemade mushroom soup topped with a milky foam… it seemed to be well received and will see what else we can dream up for these shot glasses in the future…

So our first course was a fairly ambitious one… a warm terrine of Aubergine that is set in a red pepper egg custard flavoured with cumin. I have to admit this was not all my own idea but one gleaned from a chef demo I had seen many years ago at a cookery demo in the Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School, London. It was Moroccan inspired as this accomplished chef had spent some time cooking at the La Gazelle D’Or in Taroudant and the marriage of aubergine, red peppers and cumin is a classic north African one. It was not till I researched a bit about the Cumin a spice that I realised it had some great “lovers” connections as well. It is the second most common spice used throughout the world and this terrine for me was a challenging one to serve warm to bring out the cumin flavour. It was a long process as the aubergine required a little salting initially (having been sliced length ways) then grilling and then when cold layered in the terrine moulds with the egg custard mix added. The cumin initially dry roasted and pounded in the pestle and mortar was added to the custard mix and when baked slowly emanated a truly wonderful aroma. The terrine was then sliced last minute and reheated in the oven to warm it up and help bring out the flavours. A simple salad garnish made this a great starter that was also very vegetarian friendly as well.

Next came our main course… the roulade of chicken, here we beat out a chicken supreme (the skinless breast) thinly and then before rolling it up tightly we placed some sautéed spinach, crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts as the filling.

The roulade rolled in cling film meant the best cooking method was to then gently poach them in chicken stock so ensure the meat remained succulent. A light jus with the addition of sherry and chopped sun-dried tomatoes proved an extra dimension and the clean plates that all came back seemed to be an approval of our efforts!

Next our ubiquitous cheese course was made up of a selection… we had marinated some fresh goats cheeses in an olive oil mix of dried chilli, chopped chives and basil for a couple of days, then a small wedge of Gorgonzola was the blue addition and a soft French Pié d’Angloys. We then also included as the hard cheese our local Winterdale Shaw but this time the standard one and a sliver of their smoked version, this is the matured cheese that is then halved and taken off to the Weald Smokery and smoked naturally over oak wood chips. One guest remarked how it took him right back to an earlier food memory so it certainly did its job!!!

Finally the dessert we served was a warm Rhubarb Tart that was served with some walnut ice cream. The pink rhubarb sliced and being placed raw on the puff pastry bases was then baked with addition of sugar and cinnamon.

Finally it was coffee served with an assortment of chocolates including some rather good Spanish Turron, it was a nightmare to cut but the broken bits that kept falling off found a good home!

The atmosphere of both nights was great and first night seemed incredibly loud with a constant background chatter, then the second night guests were treated to a firework display by one of neighbours so an added bonus… at no extra cost as well!!!

So that rounded up the dinners and we now start planning our next one…it will be a fish theme and will I am sure will be over subscribed once again…menu coming soon so watch this space…

Cheers

Hari

Twuddle Personality of the Year 2010…

Well it was with some trepidation I arrived at the award ceremony held at Sankeys Wine Bar and Restaurant… There had been enormous twitter banter before the award ceremony and much canvassing of votes.

Well to say I was amazed to be awarded this honour was an understatement and was much appreciated to feel the warmth and good wishes within the room…

I hope I live up to the reputation bestowed upon me…

Hari

Gift Vouchers…

Something extra from Hari Covert…

Hari Covert Gift Vouchers…

Looking for something different and unusual to give a loved one? Not certain what to get that awkward friend or relative well why not treat them to a “Hari Covert Gift Voucher”.

We can now offer Gift Vouchers in £10 denominations that can then be redeemed against future events at Hari Covert’s Underground Restaurant. Vouchers will be valid for a six month period from their date of issue and can be used as payment against the dining experience of their choice. (subject to availability) Each voucher will come personalised with the recipient’s name and who they have been purchased by.

The Hari Covert “gift vouchers” may only be purchased by a credit or debit card. To do so please just contact us at covert.hari@yahoo.co.uk with your contact details and we will call you to take payment over the phone.

You can also follow Hari Coverts musings and thoughts on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook just click the links below

If you wish to be added to our mailing list please complete the following form

Cheers

Hari Covert

Covert by name and nature…

Chocolate Fest…

CHOCOLATE FEST… FRIDAY 19TH & SATURDAY 20TH MARCH

Well we had a reasonable turnout for our latest dinner but more are always welcome…

The menu was based on chocolate… with Easter around the corner we felt this food needed showcasing as to its versatility. A menu dedicated to a plant seed that has been cultivated for at least three millennia was challenging, as some dishes were a marriage made in heaven whilst others were more experimental…

We kicked the evening off with a smooth chicken liver parfait… no chocolate here but we moulded this rich and buttery pate into what basically looked like a chocolate truffle… the parfait was rolled in roasted hazelnuts and toasted sesame seeds as you would a chocolate ganache…serving this with a redcurrant sauce to help cut the parfaits richness and some simple melba toast… the culinary heritage of the toast is well documented as it was inspired by chef Auguste Escoffier whilst cooking at the Savoy and named in honour of Dame Nellie Melba an opera singer of the Victorian and early 1900’s. Many classical dishes are so named and a fuller list can be checked outhere

We then moved onto a slightly more experimental dish of a basic risotto that was cooked normally using a vegetable stock made from the cauliflower trimmings. Cauliflower florets were browned in butter to garnish the risotto, a cauliflower puree added to enrich the risotto and also deepen the cauliflower flavour and then just before serving some freshly grated white chocolate over the top. A simple and quite effective dish.

The main course dish was then an amalgamation of another classic French dish known as a Paupiette de Bouef or Beef Olive. A thinly sliced piece of beef topside is then filled with a sausage meat stuffing and on this occasion was then slowly braised in a Mexican inspired Mole (Mo-Lay) Sauce. The richness of this chocolate laden sauce and fiery chilli notes produced a warming and filling dish. It was served alongside Spatzli a southern German / Swiss pasta to soak up the sauce… all served with our signature dish of Green Beans… To check out the way the Spatzli is made check out our blog here

To complete the meal we named the dessert as chocolate overload as here we served three different chocolate desserts.

Firstly a classic dark chocolate mousse made with 70% cocoa solids chocolate, cream and egg whites that when set was spooned onto a sauce made from melted white chocolate, coffee and some sea salt…

Then a decadent chocolate torte I am unashamed to declare was a very easy recipe from chef Phil Vickery’s book called a Passion for Puddings it uses an oft forgotten ingredient Carnation Condensed Milk (the whole book is sponsored by them and I have done a whole series of puddings from it). Garnished with fresh raspberries the raspberry wheat beer from Whitstable Brewery we served with the pudding went well with this torte.

The third chocolate dessert was a dish inspired from my training in Switzerland… a dessert we used to serve in honour of our local neighbour Dr Sprungli of Lindt & Sprungli fame. A freshly poached pear once cold is served atop a ball of vanilla ice cream then placed into a brandy snap basket. The pear is then coated with a chocolate kirsch cream. The chocokirsch made by melting 70% dark chocolate with best Swiss Kirsch and then added to whipped cream. It added a lighter more refreshing touch to go with the other two desserts.

Coffee served with little Easter chocolate eggs, bunnies and chocolate bugs were in most cases taken home…

This was a fun menu and I think it went rather well… now thinking about the April menu as Spring will have well and truly sprung by then… I think I might use as inspiration some of the dishes I had recently at The Sportsman in Seasalter a re-knowned establishment with a Michelin star…

Happy Eating

Hari Covert

Covert by name, covert by nature

All Loved Up…

ALL LOVED UP…SATURDAY 13TH FEBRUARY 2010

Well we hosted a “Valentines” themed menu that we called “in the pink” The idea was to have each course with some colour co-ordination namely pink… simple really.

It was quite a challenge to balance the menu but we felt we did a pretty good job… we kicked off the evening with a Prosecco Royale – a glass of prosecco with a slug of cassis and served this with a shot glass of a pea and curry mousse… I know its not pink but well we had to be green somewhere!

The first course was a cold cauliflower terrine that was served with a chilled shellfish sauce that was laced with some chopped crayfish tails. A garnish of our ubiquitous green beans in a light lemon juice and oil dressing was enhanced with some toasted pine kernels. This was a dish that Hari once served to the crown prince of Norway at a private dinner, on that occasion he cooked the terrine in an Aga but it failed to set and so ended up being a bit of a mush. On another occasion at a luncheon held at Sutton Place outside Guildford the same dish was presented to Rudolph Nureyev and was much appreciated so a fitting start to this evenings meal.

Next came a roasted fillet of Scotch Salmon that was served on top of a bed of roasted winter vegetables, these included Grilled Aubergine, Beetroot, Butternut Squash, Red Onion and then some lovely aniseed flavoured fresh fennel. This was served with some green Mojo Sauce a Canarian speciality. The sauce is made using fresh coriander, ground cumin, garlic and olive oil. Papas arrugadas were the potatoes and this was baby new potatoes that had been cooked in very salted water to ensure the skins became salt crusted…

Next a classic Panna Cotta or “cooked cream” was served with some fresh poached forced rhubarb and some homemade thin shortbread biscuits, simple but classic.

To complete the meal a platter of cheeses was served to share “a deux” and this include thinly sliced vieux Mimolette, a fresh goats cheese and then a run away vacherin, a traditional cheddar cheese and a blue Shropshire. All served again with our now infamous oat “porridge” biscuits.

To go with the coffee Hari had once again made some heart attack peanut butter fudge and presented little bags to take away to the guests as well.

It seemed the guests all left pretty loved up and once again we look forward to welcoming the discerning diner to our next event planned for mid March.

The next theme is a chocolate fest as we will be celebrating Easter and here we plan to make each course served incorporate chocolate somehow or other so this could get a bit experimental.

Cheers

Hari Covert

Covert by name and nature