Category Archives: Last Dinners

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


Veggie Feast…a report

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Well we have just completed our January dinners and I have to say it was a real pleasure to work in conjunction with a couple of like minded passionate individuals to deliver what we hope our diners found to be an exciting and memorable event.

I must firstly say a big thanks to Sarah Crysell the owner of the Olive Stores in Brenchley who agreed to allow me to host the event here so that we could serve the alcohol we had planned to serve and incorporate with this special vegetarian inspired menu. Sarah opened this little cafe & deli in late summer 2011 and she has quickly established the place as a venue for “ladies who lunch” and also is keen to establish regular evening events with a difference. It meant we were able to offer more places as the venue is not only bigger but the set up provides an intimate atmosphere that lends itself to our covert theme. I am sure we will return for a future events and I look forward to attending one of her own events…

Having become aware of Moodley’s last year and helped to introduce founder and brewer Yudhistra Moodley to a few foodie contacts I have been keen to incorporate and introduce his beers to a wider audience and what better way than at one of our dinners.

Well this month we had a private dinner at our home venue on the Friday night and then decamped up to Brenchley for the Saturday night. We decided the menu this month would also since the excess of the festive period would be a recent memory so a good idea if we  went the route of a vegetarian theme. So this we duly decided upon and also with a unique selection of Moodley’s Beers to go with the chosen dishes.

We kicked the dinner off with a welcome drink of Sparkling Perry that we mixed with a shot of the Moodley’s Winters Solstice making a version of a “black velvet” and with this we served some nibbles, some black olive tapenade and some crispy cauliflower cheese fritters and some shot glasses filled with curried parsnip soup.

Well as guests settled in for the six course feast we served the first course, cold smoked tofu that was served on top of cold rice noodles and a julienne of cucumber. This was all coated by a peanut butter and sesame oil sauce that with the drizzle of chilli oil made up the the Bang Bang element of this oriental inspired dish. The beer we served was a Mr Toad’s Tonic a pretty effervescent brew that was lively as we pored it but slipped down well and got the party going!

Next came the freshly made roasted butternut squash risotto that was served topped with some crumbled goats cheese and deep fried sage leaves. With this dish we served a new beer that Yudhistra had brewed specifically for the night. This one had no name and we had run a competition to come up with a name… there were five names shortlisted for the night and voting forms given to guests resulted in a winning name being chosen.

I can now reveal the winning name submitted by Sarah Kennaird of Tunbridge Wells is “The Thirsty Bear”… so we will now invite her to attend a special tasting of the beer and a plate of the risotto.

So the next dish of this veritable feast was a mushroom and chickpea burger that we served with a mint,cucumber and yoghurt relish and a this we drizzled some olive oil and truffle balsamic vinegar over the garnish of pea shoots…. the Moodley’s Autumn Leaf was the beer we served for this course!

Then it was the main course… a mixed bean chilli that was in a rich tomato based chilli sauce, we served this with some rather special homemade bread, a simple beer bread made with some Moodley’s Penshurst Pleasure and then a simple side salad of green beans with toasted Kentish cobnuts and cobnut oil dressing. With this we served the second special beer of the night especially brewed for the occasion. This one named Olympic had a little citric tang that went well with the chilli. The use of overseas hops namely the Czech Saaz and German Halltauer  gave it a unique perspective.

With the cheese course we served four cheeses just some of the extensive selection the Olive Stores have for sale or use themselves for their cafe customers. We had a neat little selction of British and French… a runny ripe Somerset Brie, a black wax coated Welsh cheddar called the Black Bombardier, a classic Stilton and then a garlic & black pepper cheese from the Auvergne in France called Gaperon.

Finally it was the dessert, this we kept nice and simple and we had made a lovely dense gooey chocolate brownie that we served with a dollop of  creme fraiche. This we served with the Winters Solstice beer that seemed to go down very well indeed.

Some freshly baked shortbread biscuits with coffee rounded the evening off and we had completed yet another Hari event. It is always a bit daunting when we have an idea for an event and how are we likely to pull it off but I think I an say this one was a success and we had some delightful comments in our Guestbook that was circulated around the tables on the night!

Now we are busy planning for our February dinners – will be announcing the menu soon and then also some further news on some big charity/fundraising ones as well!!

Keep watching this space…

Festive Frolics December 2011…

Our Festive Christmas Dinners and Lunches…

Well as Christmas now fast approaches we have completed our festive dinners and nearly completed all our festive lunches.

We started with the normal weekend of dinners and were once again a full house… it is with much pride and trepidation that we find ourselves fully booked pretty much as soon as we release the tables. It has however been very much the article that appeared in Index magazine back in June this year that has helped spread the word and also a local networking group that I discovered early on that have been a massive support to me.

The group based in nearby Tunbridge Wells and known as Twuddle and Twuttle are a mixed bunch who basically use twitter to loosely network and stage a range of imaginative and friendly social gatherings…When I totalled up our weekend guests I found 50% had booked via Twuddle/Twuttle connections…  guess that illustrates well the power social media can have on the business and the ways to source customers! I would like to say how privileged I feel to have found them and more importantly how they have embraced what I am doing…

Equally the editorial/revue that was done by Index Magazine in June 2010 has also been very helpful and looking at my web stats seems to have been responsible for increasing the traffic to my site to what now is circa averaging 1000 hits per month. (In fact 50% more when the article appeared) The immediate effect has meant my dinners were booked up for about 3 months ahead and has also helped to ensure repeat customers. So it was a real pleasure to supply the editor with her secret Santa present of a specially made batch of porridge biscuits and Hari’s Christmas Buttons when she asked could I do some as the person who had sampled them initially when they reviewed me had not stopped raving about them since… perhaps there is a market for them out there!

Well now to the report – first the dinners started this time with a welcome glass of Cider & Crème de Cassis commonly known as a Kir Normande. With this we served some little cheese quiches and other nibbles before then serving a smoked salmon rillettes that was garnished with a fresh mango salsa, chopped mango was mixed with olive oil and Cameroon Mango Vinegar. This provided the right balance to the rich oily texture of the chopped smoked salmon that had been bound with crème fraiche and freshly chopped dill. Thin melba toasts went with this.

The main course we served was a classic Confit of Duck. The leg of a Barbary Duck is very gently poached in the duck fat for a couple of hours. To finish this in then roasted in a hot oven until it goes crispy… another good 20-30 minutes. We served a bed of Puy Green lentils from the Auvergne region of France that had the addition of finely diced smoked bacon, leek, celeriac and carrot to add flavour and then a jus scented with a pinch of cinnamon added the wetness required. With such a rich meat and filling lentils we thought a light side salad would go best and so we served some blanched green beans that were then mixed with toasted Kent Cobnuts and a Cobnut Oil dressing.

The oil and nuts coming from the local producer… In fact the only UK producer for said product… that was recently featured on Radio 4 Farming Today programme.

We then moved onto the cheese course that featured a Christmas version of Hari’s Buttons. This time we soaked dried cranberries in a homemade apricot schnapps..(A friend in Switzerland supplies me) and then layers of a blue cheese and a cream cheese. We also served some Winterdale Shaw from cheesemaker Robin Betts and a very good ripe Coulommier and Petit Munster from France. The porridge oat biscuits, once again, going perfectly with them.

For dessert we thought a festive menu without the Christmas pudding would be deemed as sacrilege so decided on our version should be an iced parfait. This we served with a marmalade sauce and to supply the ubiquitous pudding flame we served a little vessel with a burning tot of Cuarenta y Tres (43) from Spain. It certainly gave us the “wow factor” and the glass of Rivesaltes Tuile – a sweet red wine with it was this month’s dessert wine choice.

In all we felt we provided a good festive menu that had classics alongside some experimental ideas that seemed to go down well.

Certainly we have had some lovely comments… our twitter followers provided some of the following revues

Chris_Maslin Dec 11, 11:28pm via TwitterJust back from @MrHariCovert’s, the courses kept comin, we could barely fit into car afterwards! Thanks Hari!

Chris_Maslin 8:45am via TwitterToday’s gonna be tough. Still full from @MrHariCovert, got B&B fry up in a minute, then full Sunday roast for lunch…no belt today!

EvthingCupcakes 9:23am via TweetDeckSet the shoulder of lamb to start cooking at 7am for a slow cook. Still stuffed from @MrHariCovert & the thought of another meal, bleurgh!

EvthingCupcakes 9:09am via TweetDeckHad a wonderful dinner last night at @MrHariCovert Still so full cannot even contemplate more than a coffee for breakfast!

LTrebs 9:55am via Osfoora for iPhoneDinner at @MrHariCovert One of the nicest meals I’ve had recently. Lovely atmosphere along with good food. Great combination.

LTrebs 9:50am via Osfoora for iPhoneJust finished my breakfast coffee. Too full for food right now. Unusual for me. All down to dinner last night at @MrHariCovert 🙂

KeepTriin10:42am via Web Back down to earth with a bump. Wonderful weekend away with @EvthingCupcakes and @LTrebs. Fantastic dining experience with @MrHariCovert !!

For the lunches we decided on a similar menu but just the three courses. We also gave our diners a pre ordered choice so they kicked off with either a homemade Ham Hock terrine served with a red onion and dried cranberry chutney or a spicy curried parsnip soup with crispy croutons. Then we served either the Duck confit or a roasted fillet of salmon served atop a bed of roasted winter vegetables garnished with either a meat jus or a green mojo salsa.

To round off the festivities we served a homemade traditional sherry trifle or a board of our specially selected cheeses. We served them the Winterdale Shaw and a Stichelton. The Winterdale being the cheddar like hard cheese from atop Wrotham Hill and the Stichelton is what a true Stilton should be. It is made from unpasteurised milk by an American cheesemaker on the Welbeck estate in Nottinghamshire. It really is rather special.

We also at the lunches knowing we had some competitive guests ran a little Christmas themed quiz and a winner each day who went home with a bottle of Muscat de Rivesaltes as their prize. – perfect to go with their Christmas Pud!!!

All in all a very good festive season and we would like to wish all our followers a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2011


A “Fishtastic” couple of nights… our report

Well we have now completed what have been our October dinners and our “Fishtastic Suppers”

It was a full house again for both nights and with some old and new faces eager to partake in our fishy inspired menu.

One guest quizzed me hard as to what motivates me to open my home to complete strangers and spend not only two nights serving dinner to them but all the work that goes into shopping, preparing and deciding what to feed them! More on that front in a future post I think!

Well it is now nearly two years since we started this little venture (February 2010 were our first dinners!) and we seem to have now got quite a following of people eager to sample what we do each month and our challenge each month is to come up with a menu and theme that will continue to excite our punters!!!

I am often asked what do I like to cook best and I have to say fish is pretty high up there as there are so many varieties and ways in which this product can be handled. We decided this month to try and showcase assorted processes and styles. Preserved fish, shellfish and a fish most had never heard of!

So with no further ado the menu was decided and we kicked the evenings off with a welcome drink and some toasts topped with smoked salmon rillettes a coarse pate that had the addition of some Wasabi heat to it and some simple Japanese Rice Crackers with dried seaweed as fish inspiration!

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Our first course “A taste of Catalonia” inspired by our holiday home in the Roussillon region of France was a combination of roasted red peppers and some marinated anchovy fillets! It was a picture on the plate as I laid out the strips of red pepper alternately with an anchovy fillet and then sprinkled some extra olive oil over them and then a drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction and a toasted slice of homemade ciabatta style bread! It certainly was demolished with gusto and was a good light start to the meal ahead!

Next came the prawn and garlic risotto. I am a great fan of the marriage of prawns with garlic and thought this would be a great way of putting the two together. Risotto for me should always be cooked to order… it takes a bit of experience to ensure the rice is slowly cooked to ensure the stock is absorbed and the grains grow in size. I used a total of just over two kilos of prawns so not a cheap dish but these were added just as the risotto was finished cooking so the cooked lightly in the hot rice and then the addition of some mascarpone cream provided a lovely unctuous texture and finally a spoonful or two of wild garlic pesto added as well!

Guests comments were complimentary with one guest stating I had converted him to risotto having previously hated it and one guest with an Italian heritage cleared his bowl so a good sign!

The main course was then something of an experiment for me in so much I was using a fish that is not widely known about or that easy to obtain. I have seen it for sale in one major supermarket but my local ones were not stocking it so it meant a trip to the Chinese supermarket Wing Yip near Croydon as I had previously purchased it from here for our Chinese dinners with Chef But!

I am talking about the Panga fillets, a white fish that come frozen as large individual fillets that when I defrosted I cut into smaller sized pieces and then beat out thinner to be able to encase a piece of banana within. Rolled into a ball these were then floured, egg washed and rolled in breadcrumbs and flaked almonds. Now looking a bit like a scotch egg these were then deep fried in hot oil. The way we then served them was atop a hollandaise sauce – an emulsion of egg yolks and butter with the addition of reduced orange juice. This is what is classically known as a Sauce Maltaise. Some green beans and boiled new potatoes were the garnish.

Now the name for this dish has something of a story!  The dish for me originated in the period of when I lived and worked in Switzerland some thirty plus years ago. I worked in a very smart restaurant that was operated by a gentleman by the name of Arthur Moergeli  (he was a former senior director of Movenpick) Well he produced this dish using dover sole fillets and it was a big seller on the menu and was a reworking of a classic combination of sole and grilled banana and flaked almonds known as a sole caprice. I can only think the dish was named MacArthur as a nod towards the “Scotch Egg” look alike tendency and his name Arthur… at least that is my reasoning as I have not been able to find any other reason in my research! The panga substitution worked well as the fish is both delicate and versatile and went well with all the flavours going on… the plates again came back clean and some appreciative comments made!

Finally as it was “National Chocolate Week” I had luckily planned to finish the meal with another classic combination. A dark rich cholesterol busting Chocolate Marquise with a bitter coffee sauce! My practice run of the chocolate terrine produced a very dense dark chocolate slab that I softened slightly the next time with the addition of some whipped double cream. The combination of dark chocolate and coffee worked well and was a great way to finish this meal and it seemed to go down well with the ubiquitous glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes we served with it.

So that was it the “fishtastic” suppers were complete and we had fed our guests… Now we move onto our next dinners in November where we will be showcasing beer brewed by Penshurst based brewer Yudhistra Moodley of Moodley’s Beers. We will also be posting soon our plans for Christmas and then dates for 2012 so keep watching this space!



Going Underground… a report

Well it was possibly our biggest challenge yet… to cook and serve our dinners in a cheese cellar… what made us even think we could do it? Well I have to say I do like a challenge but this was going to be a big one for a number of reasons.

Firstly we were going to base the menu on the cheese… namely Winterdale Shaw a hard cheddar cheese. The idea to use cheese at every stage was not too hard as I am a big fan of cheese but in cooking it is a challenge to get the balance right.

However, perhaps the biggest challenge was a kitchen had to be built. In fact when we first mooted this back in January when I helped make the cheeses the kitchen was going to be on the first floor of the barn!!!

Well the kitchen is still not quite finished so it meant we needed to be adaptable. To serve a dinner in a dark and damp cellar meant we needed to think not only about a workable menu but more important a menu that could be prepared from a kitchen that comprised of a small domestic oven, two double ring electric hotplates and a gas paella lamp.

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So the menu was constructed around the cheese and we thought it only fitting to use (as much as possible) the produce local to the dairy and farm so chose to use Pork from Roundwood Orchard Pigs as the main course.

So having lugged equipment up to the venue and then also roped in the assistance of fellow cheesemaker Jason we were ready along with Cheesemakers Robin & Carla Betts to provide dinner to fourty guests over two nights.

We had tables lugged into the cellar and then thanks to nearby resident Harry we had chairs and also some apples and damsons scrumped from his orchard! We also decided the lighting needed to be fitting for the cellar so with assorted lighting including over 200 tea lights the caves along with a six figure sum worth of cheese we were ready for the guests to descend the steep steps to the eat their dinner.

Firstly though we served a welcome drink in the shop area along with assorted nibbles. Using the cheese that we had assisted in making we served some “retro” cheese cubes on sticks with silverskin pickled onions, baby gherkins and fresh pineapple cubes. Also a classic welsh rarebit and then some rather scrummy cheddar cheese & cauliflower beignets or fritters if you prefer! These seemed to be a big hit!

So after a welcome by Robin & Carla the guests then made their way to the tables and dinner commenced!!! First came the starter a double baked cheese soufflé served with a watercress and apple salad dressed with a local cobnut oil. Plates when removed from the tables were licked clean and guests seemed to be getting into their stride as they tucked into the home made breads.

Main course next was using the local Pork. This was to be a tasting plate of three different cuts and cooking methods to showcase the free-range meat. The belly was firstly very slowly poached in lard infused with herbs and then just before serving the skin was crisped up and was then served on top of some Bramley apple puree. A goulash made with the shoulder cut was firstly marinated in sweet paprika and then sealed and the cooking liquor had the addition of sauerkraut and grated potato and then slowly braised for a couple of hours.

The final cut was a bold one… Pigs liver… not everyone’s favourite but it seemed to be a hit both nights. The pig had been slaughtered on the Monday and I picked the meat up on the Tuesday and had soaked the liver in milk since the Wednesday, soaking in milk helps to tenderise the meat and also helps to remove the excess blood. The garnish for the liver that we literally pan fried last minute was some fried onions and the garnish with all of this was cheesy mashed potatoes and of course some green beans!!! It was interesting to hear from several guests how much they had enjoyed the meat.

One admitted he had not eaten pork for over 30 years but had thoroughly enjoyed it and we even converted one guest to mashed potato!!!

Again clean plates were cleared from the tables and then we served the cheese made back on January 24th… we simply gave our guests a wedge and served it with our porridge oat biscuits and a little dish of home made banana and date chutney and some more of our scrumped fruit!!!

Finally we had decided to make a classic junket using the Betts unpasteurised milk and rennet. This illustrated the start of the cheese making process as it is the warming of the milk to then be set using rennet that starts the whole ball rolling!! Well having had a dummy run we made the junket by heating the milk with some sugar, vanilla and freshly grated nutmeg we then added the rennet and poured it into the chosen moulds. Leaving the junket for a couple of hours to set. It was certainly a challenge to get the quantities of rennet right for the volume of milk. Robin uses circa 230ml of rennet for 1000 litres of milk and we found we used no more than 5-8ml for 2.5litres of milk and it was setting as we poured so we had to be quick!!

The junket was served with a warm freshly baked shortbread biscuit and topped by a spoonful of tart Damson puree. A shot glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes served alongside! I think some relished others were sceptical it was certainly a talking point.

Coffee served with our homemade chocolates was the final flourish. We had done it dinner served in a cheese cave and the guests were happy!!! It was a real pleasure and without the involvement and passion of Robin & Carla would never have happened.

I must also say big thanks to helpers Jason fellow cheese maker (he was the stoic behind the scenes chef who ensured it all came together on each night) and then Julia who is a regular assistant front of house at our events now more commonly know as “The Hands” since an article that appeared in the September issue of the Saga Magazine!

As all the guests departed along with a sample pack of our cheese and brochure from Roundwood Orchard Pig. We trust all arrived home safe and sound and will bring back some pleasing memories of Going Underground!



More Chinese Memories…

My thanks to local photographer Alex Whittle  for sending me these photos…he was one of the guests on the Saturday night.

He apologised profusely as he normally does not drink and snap as well but I think he did quite well to capture the noodle demo so well… He was amazed how quick Mr But had made them…as he blinked there they were!

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Please check the following link for the Video of this demo!

A weekend of Chinese Memories…

When we decided to open for two nights in August we knew we had to do something a bit special as it was going to be hard to entice guests as many would be away on holidays…

Well it seemed only right and proper we introduced you to Mr Kam Po But a master Chinese chef who has just recently retired from over 30 years cooking at Ken Lo’s Memories of China in London. He has been a friend for a great number of years and is godfather to my daughter and we have often done special events together.

I also helped teach many years ago when the Belgravia restaurant also had a cookery school and so have witnessed many times B’s prowess with a wok. Many years ago we also use to meet for a game of tennis on a Sunday morning and then decamp to Soho for a late lunch of Dim Sum and even followed that by a late afternoon tea at a swanky London five star hotel.

Having also taken many friends to the restaurant on numerous occasions and also introduced many foreign friends to the art of fine Chinese cuisine we thought it would be fun to host a couple of banquet  meals showcasing his talents and more importantly hopefully introduce him to the world of underground dining.

We composed a menu together as I know my kitchen and it’s limitations and we thought it would be good to balance the dishes to reflect some of B’s signature dishes.  The dishes I insisted upon were his Mongolian Lamb made with Leg of Lamb and then slow cooked shin of beef – a dish not often found on a restaurant menu but although slightly heavy perhaps for a warm summers evening is an example of Chinese comfort food at its best!!!

Well we had a full house on both nights with a good mix of new and returning guests. One guest on the Saturday evening was a former work colleague from my days as a hotel and restaurant inspector and he travelled a sixty mile round trip to savour once again Mr But’s cooking as he had fond memories of a meal and cookery demo we all had once at the restaurant where some dishes then became the benchmarks at other Chinese restaurants should they wish to gain a guide book entry.

Mr But has cooked for many a celebrity, Princess Diana was a regular as was Princess Margaret, Sir Paul McCartney held a celebratory Birthday vegetarian lunch when he purchased the rights to the Michael Jackson songbook. There was the episode when he refused a table to Elizabeth Taylor as she wanted to eat late one night after closing time and then there was the King of Tonga who stationed a food taster in the kitchen to sample the dishes before he did!

B has also often been the media face for the restaurant on numerous occasions as he is a master of the art of hand drawn noodles. A magical process of taking simple plain flour adding water and then transforming them in to thin noodles all by hand with absolutely no machines !!! It took him many years to master the art and he has now appeared many times on TV demonstrating this skill. Twice on the Generation Game, BBC Food & Drink show, the kids programme Motormouth and on assorted European TV networks as well. He was the first Chinese chef to demonstrate on TV how to make Crispy Seaweed and he was scorned by fellow chefs as it forced the price down in restaurants as the secret was out it was just fried spring green leaves!

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Well following the welcome glass of Cremant D’Alsace that guests partook of out on our decked terrace we sat them on two tables and served them the assorted dishes as Mr But plated them up. There was an unusual starter of Peking smoked fish. Fresh Plaice fillets that were marinated first then fried and marinated again and once cold cut into bite sized pieces. It took him a total of some three hours to prepare this dish alone!!! A smoky flavour achieved from the marinade was something to savour and appreciated greatly by one fellow chef who had never sampled it before!  Next came a Classic Prawn Toasts made with minced prawn and then topped by sesame seeds and deep fried, another guest remarked he had never had such a generous prawn topping and was the best he had ever tasted!

A favourite of Mrs HC’s is the crispy smoked chicken that was tossed in a dry wok with spring onion garlic and ginger and served on a bed of crispy seaweed. We also had some fresh scallops that were very quickly steamed in his wok and then topped with a piquant black bean sauce that complemented well with the delicate sweet scallop.

Next came the Mongolian Crispy Lamb, B had poached the lamb in a scented stock of spring onions, garlic, ginger and assorted spices, Star Anise, Cinammon, and Szechaun Peppercorns till tender and then the meat is left to cool and firm. To serve we deep fried the meat and served it with washed Iceberg Lettuce leaves that are used to wrap the meat with spring onions and cucumber and a spoonful of his special Yellow Bean Sauce. This is very much a signature dish and as he uses the leg cut as it is not as fatty as belly or shoulder.

The main course dishes then meant he was solidly cooking and plating up as soon as they were ready, some King Prawns quickly stir fried were mixed with sugar snap peas and the sauce of ginger spring onion and garlic commonly known as the “Trinity” meant this was a light and colourful way to kick off.

Next came his stir fried chicken breast with cashew nuts in a yellow bean sauce. Here he just coated the chicken with the sauce unlike others who serve it swimming in a gravy… it was positively divine and soon got knocked back.

The Shin of Beef quickly followed, the beef was firstly plunged into boiling water and then removed once bought to the boil, refreshed and then added back to the pan that had then been prepared with the cooking stock. Then gently simmered for two to three hours and water chestnuts were separately simmered in the cooking stock and then placed in the bottom of the little mini woks we then served the finish dish in, he thickened the the cooking liquor last minute and garnished with some shredded red chilli and coriander – it was his favourite dish of the night and mine too as I explained to guests this is what is termed true rustic chinese cooking and not a dish you would normally see on a menu very often and suited our banquet perfectly!

Then came the fish dish… he had lightly pre fried some Panga Fillets… a fish we had purchased at Wing Yip on our shopping trip… in a light flour and beaten egg so it was like a light batter, placed onto the serving plates it was then warmed in the oven just before serving he made a piquant Szechaun sauce that was spooned over the top and served… the fish was delicate and light and I was very impressed as I admitted to guests it was in fact a frozen fish and Mr But  was also pleased with the end result!

Finally he quickly poached some Pak Choy a crisp cabbage like Chinese vegetable in boiling water and then stir fried with garlic and ginger and arranged on the serving plate and topped with some stir fried Chinese Shittake Mushrooms to complete the dish, a light finish to complete the meal meant we had pulled it all off out of our domestic kitchen!!!

Yours truly then quickly knocked up the dessert I had planned, some grilled fresh pineapple that had been marinated in a stock sugar syrup infused with green cardamom and some slices of fresh banana and then a ball of Taywells finest Coconut Ice Cream and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds… a simple finish to what had been a big feast…

The guests on both nights were then treated to a noodle demonstration that was a fascinating insight into a skillful culinary display. One guest remarked how impressed they were but more impressive was how the whole process was conceived in the first instance and it was a breathtaking demo that was over in as another guest remarked was a “blink of the eye” and there was a board covered in noodles.

It had been a real pleasure to host such an evening and I do hope all the guests who came were impressed… Mr But and his wife Sue worked hard and B talked about a future return visit… I’m sure there will be a clammer for the places when we do!

B also had copies of his Memories Of China cookery book and managed to sell all the copies he had bought with him. If others wish to purchase a copy I am able to get more copies of the book at the greatly discounted price of £6.00 and will also get him to sign them… just email me your order via our Book Now page and we will organise!

I was delighted to see how complete strangers gelled under one common bond of “good food” and there was a true buzz around the tables and I believe some new friendships were formed… any thoughts and comments would be welcomed and we now look forward to our next event in early September! For details take a look here



A celebration…

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A celebratory evening at Hari’s was something Dedo a returning customer was keen to have with a group of friends. So we duly obliged with an exclusive nights dinner.

Dedo had been recently at the not quite a bus pass dinner for Veronica and Dedo’s night was also a birthday celebration.

As the guests arrived the weather had finally cleared sufficiently for them to congregate on the garden deck terrace for their aperitif. This was a Kir Normande – dry cider with crème de cassis and the canapés… some Arancini deep fried rissoto balls, sliced German Mettwurst with some baby gherkins and then a smoked mackerel rilletes flavoured with horseradish kicked the evening off.

The first course we served was then ready so guests sat down and we served up a cherry tomato tartlet served with goats cheese and some simple salad leaves dressed in a raspberry vinegar and olive oil dressing.

Next came the roasted Pork Fillet wrapped in black forest ham served on a bed of mixed beans in a chilli salsa with some chorizo and a beer and caraway scented jus… well plates came back pretty well cleaned and the homemade bread was well used to mop up those last dregs of the sauce!

The party now in full swing was going well and we as in traditional French fashion served up the cheese selection next. The selection chosen for this dinner was a classic Spanish tangy Ewe’s milk Manchego that we served with some of our Banana & Date chutney, A good runny ripe Normandy Camembert and then our Hari’s Button made with some creamy St Agur and sherry soaked sultanas. Once again our porridge oat biscuits proved a hit and just to remind you all the recipe for them can be found in the previous post here. I was slightly reprimanded I should keep the recipe secret but I have to say I am more than happy to share it as I cannot claim it’s origin but an adaptation of someone elses creativity!!!

We then moved onto the final course that was a torte that I had done at a previous Hari dinner and knew would provide the right finish to the meal. The torte was a flourless chocolate hazelnut torte made using Nutella… that favourite chocolate hazelnut spread that Mrs HC often craves in her crepes. We served the wedge of the torte up with some local cherries stoned and turned into a compote with the addition of some fresh raspberries and a spoonful of Rote Grutze all laced with a splash of homemade Swiss Apricot schnapps. A dollop of Mascapone cream and a glass of Muscat de Rivesaltes was served as well and then I duly realised next morning I had forgotten to sprinkle some chopped roasted cobnuts on the finished plate as garnish…ooops!

A toast to Dedo with a glass of bubbly was served up along with their coffees – the night had been a lovely success and as guests departed Dedo passed over a table placemat that had a rather fitting comment written on the reverse… it makes it all worthwhile when guests really do appreciate what you do for them.

So now we are busy planning for the next two events firstly the afternoon teas that we are doing to raise money for the Hospice in the Weald and then the special Chinese banquets we are doing as extra dates in August as we are delaying our holidays to France to host these special dinners.

We are also planning our dates up to the end of the year so keep watching the Dates page for all the latest info…



To Hot to Handle… the story unfolds…

Well we were smoking this weekend with our special BBQ themed dinners… we were also blessed with the weather that came with it as we managed to stay pretty dry throughout!!!

We had decided to go with a BBQ and make use of our fire pit and also having come back from a short trip to Germany we were also lucky to bring back some special goodies with us… More on that in a moment.

We found demand to be good for tables and we were booked out within two days of opening the bookings so please note do not delay if you want to secure a place at future events.

We had a large party of twelve book the Saturday night so we thought we would use just the one large table for the Friday night as well. The assorted parties sharing the table seemed to work well and all the guests seemed to get on…Dependent on the style of the dinner something we might try again in the future…

So the food this month was influenced slightly by the purchases made in Germany. Firstly I wanted to use some dried green beans…these I had specially purchased via the Swiss supermarket Migros to be delivered to friends in Germany that I could pick up on our visit. The beans are known as Dörrbohnen and traditionally in Switzerland served like you would Sauerkraut with smoked sausage and boiled bacon. I had decided to initially soak for 24 hours in water then poach in a vegetable stock and serve them cold mixed with some freshly blanched green beans and a sun-dried tomato & chilli dressing as a salad…

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We kicked the meal off with a classic roasted red pepper stuffed with tomato, anchovy and garlic served with some slices of spicy Spanish Chorizo and cured Black Forest Ham. We also served a freshly baked Cheese & Herb loaf that was a new addition to my repertoire…

Having lit the BBQ about forty minutes prior to the guests arriving to ensure they were not too smoked out we had nice hot embers in which to cook the range of meats!! I had purchased some Kassler in fact for the BBQ I used a similar cut known as Nackern as it had a little more fat to keep it moist. Some Chicken thighs I had marinated in Indian “tikka” spices and then a Barbary Duck breast I sprayed with a honey and apple juice mix to lacquer the flesh. I also had bought back some Leberkäse that we also grilled and then a wonderfully smokey Krakauerschinken Würst that was gently heated on the edge. Finally pancetta wrapped scallops were cooked before all being plated up and served with the assorted salads. Some grilled Halloumi cheese was mixed with some chargrilled vegetables in a wild garlic pesto dressing that completed the offering!

We served a grated beetroot salad mixed with Greek yoghurt and lime, and a hot dressed potato salad that was served with roasted onions. Along with the bean salad the plates seemed to be stacked pretty high but all came back pretty much cleared!

I like to serve my cheeses after the main course in what is often termed the “French fashion” We served a simple selection this month that comprised of Cashel Blue from Ireland, a full flavoured Vintage Gouda and finally a soft, runny and unctuous Pié d’Angloys from France… all with our porridge oat biscuits that once again went down well.

Finally the dessert we decided upon was a tangy Lemon Posset. This is fundamentally a boiled double cream, sugar and lemon juice that will set slightly firm once chilled. It was topped with some local strawberries and a spoonful of Rote Grütze a summer fruit compote (also imported) and then a freshly made shortbread biscuit still warm alongside it all.

So that completed this months dinners…we hope you all enjoyed it and also liked the little extras we had bought back including a range of mustards including a rather scrummy Cologne Mustard flavoured with the local beer…?

It was a challenge I think we managed to pull off and now we turn our attentions towards the next events in July when we will be serving up a sumptuous and classical afternoon tea. This will also be a fundraising event in aid of our designated charity the Hospice in the Weald…



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?