Tag Archives: Cookery Lessons

Covert Secrets Revealed…

We thought it is about time we offered a structured cookery demo so instead of a dinner event in February we are offering a very special lunch preceded by a live cookery demo.

We will have just four spaces and Hari will demonstrate a full three course menu that you will all sit down to eat. It is a great way to learn some new techniques and tips and Hari will be more than happy to answer any questions along the way.

We will ask all attendees to arrive at 9:45am for a welcome coffee and biscuits. The demo will kick off at 10:00 am prompt and then lunch will be served to all around 1:00pm (or basically when ready)

The dishes that will be demonstrated will be as follows

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Date: Saturday 24th February 2018

Arrival: 9:45 am

Finish: Circa 2:00 pm

Price: £55 per person includes Recipe Sheets and  3 course Lunch

Starter: Ceviche of Smoked Haddock, Celeriac Remoulade & Apple

Main Course: Supreme of Chicken with a Prune & Bacon Stuffing, Red Wine & Prune Sauce

Gratin Dauphinoise & Vegetable Medley

Dessert: “Damian Allsops” Water Chocolate Mousse served with Blood Orange Segments

N.B. Menu subject to market purchases and ingredient availability

If time allows Hari will also demonstrate his Beer Bread and the demo will also show how to bone a whole chicken and the process of making a red wine stock. He will endeavour do everything from scratch (where possible) and will also demonstrate the presentation of the finished dishes. Attendees will also be provided with recipe sheets to take away so they can replicate at home.

This event will only go ahead if all four places are filled so why not get a group together and come and enjoy a live demo followed by a lunch.

To book  your places please complete the form below and we will then confirm your booking with an online invoice for credit card payment to secure your places.



Cooking with confidence…

cropped-covert-cook-school1.jpgWhen I initially set up as Hari Covert I never thought I would diversify the concept to then include my Covert Cook School offer.

I have always been one to willingly share a recipe or reveal how a dish is constructed etc.  So the Covert Cook School was only a natural progression. I have always loved the art of teaching and have done it on numerous occasions over the years.  I use to teach Asian inspired Fusion food at Ken Lo’s Cookery School and have fond memories of sharing the stage with my long term friend Kam Po But Noodles Butteaching my fellow Egon Ronay Inspectors classic Chinese dishes. Mr But’s Crispy Fried Shredded Beef became the bench mark for all like named dishes throughout the UK on our future inspection visits!

I have taught in Adult Education to absolute beginners and adolescent young ladies in a school environment. Each have been equally challenging and rewarding.

The young adolescent teenagers that get the benefit of my experiences are notable for their trepidation but also their amazement of the task they are made to execute.

This last year we got 18 of them to gut and fillet a freshly killed trout. The squeamish shrieks for me illustrated just how detached and desensitised to our food we have become. Then when I demonstrated and asked them to joint and bone a chicken for many I think the world had ended!

My Covert Cook School has over the past few years had a variety of students. A married couple keen to develop their repertoire, then a young fourteen year old lad from Singapore spent two weeks with us on a residential course designed especially for him. We helped develop his knife skills and introduced him to some of our fine local products as well as experienced a differing culture with a buying and eating trip to France. He recently paid a return visit along with his parents as he felt he had such a memorable time with us…

Just before Christmas we had an enquiry from a mum if we would be happy to take a seriously keen young twelve year old for one of our half day one to one cook school lessons. (It was to be a Xmas present for him)

Having now just met said young lad I was pleasantly surprised to see how keen he was and how well developed his palate is. Our lesson

Cauliflower Risotto
Cauliflower Risotto

now planned will incorporate some unusual combinations –e.g. Cauliflower Risotto with White Chocolate to the more basic but equally enlightening home baked Focaccia. His love of capers (a slightly unusual love for one of such tender years) has proved more challenging! (I do however think I have come up with something both palate challenging and different for him to sample on the day!)  He was both amused and amazed to learn they are the pickled seeds of the nasturtium flower.

So if you are an absolute beginner with little confidence or someone who has a real passion and desire to increase your repertoire we can tailor a class to suit you.

Mr HC with Chicken...
Mr HC with Chicken…

It can be on your own or with a partner/friend or even a small group (max of 4) where a demo can be followed by a lunch. We can also provide gift vouchers to use for a future lesson that make an ideal gift as well.

For more details just click this link and lets all get cooking with confidence!

Covert Cook School… it’s back

When we launched “Covert Cook School” in the autumn of 2015 we were not sure what was the best format to pursue.

We feel now the best way forward is to structure the lessons to suit you. We are flexible on dates and the format the class will take… all we ask for is you choose the style of class you have that will then dictate the size of the class so the  number of friends or acquaintances you come with.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you want a one to one lesson that is fine – if you want it hands on then we ask for just two attendees. If you want just a demo class then four people is the ideal number.

We will then discuss the content of your lesson and tailor it to what you want to learn. It can be tricks of the trade or perhaps something more complex and involved.  Just remember the lesson will be bespoke to you.

To book your own Covert Cook School please complete the form below or go to the Covert Cook School dedicated page.

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

Spilling the Beans on “Eat like a King”… well almost


Well it was a chilly Saturday afternoon as along with my covert colleague we wound our way around some Kent countryside lanes to fulfil our calling as “guest” chefs to none other than double Gold medal winner Dame Kelly Holmes.

About a year ago Dame Kelly had made her bid for an item we had put up for auction at the Hospice in the Weald Torchlight Dinner held at Hever Castle. We were to cook and serve a four course dinner to Kelly and her guests in the comfort of her own home. Titled Eat Like a King… well almost

So my partner in crime who we will call “Greg” works in a high profile Private household and had arrived earlier that day to Hari HQ to help with preparations. We were to cook a special menu that had been agreed via Kelly’s office and we had to get prepared before we set up in Kelly’s kitchen.

So having beavered away all morning, filleting fish, chopping vegetables and putting together what is more commonly termed mise-en-place we were packed and ready to roll by just after 4pm.

We arrived just before our agreed time of 5pm to be warmly greeted at Kelly’s home. Alpaca’s in an adjacent field got Greg all excited as he has extensively travelled in that part of the world these animals come from. We unloaded the car and set ourselves up in what was a very impressive kitchen. This looked like it was going to be fun!

We set to getting things ready, namely making Beer Bread and then baking off the cheese palmiers pastry nibbles – it is always a challenge working in a strange kitchen trying to get to grip with the ovens and such like… we were spoilt for choice with an Aga, two ovens and steamer so just needed to work out how to turn them on!

Kelly returned home and after introductions we settled into a relaxed pace. She set off to light her wood burning stove in the hallway. About 20 minutes later as a light fug descended the hallway alarms were blaring… we thought we had burnt something but as Kelly later tweeted  “Looking forward to a posh meal being cooked @ my place by @MrHariCovert Embarrassing that I set the fire alarm off with my fire though.”

So what did we serve Kelly and her 5 guests. Well as they congregated in the lounge we served up a platter of mini toasts topped with chopped mushrooms mixed with wild mushrooms and bowls of crispy cheese palmiers

As they all sat down the first course we served was a little extra one called “Tasette Lady Mariniere”. A delicate soup of prawns infused with Pernod and saffron flavour, then thickened with what is termed an egg yolk liaison (egg yolk and cream) at the last minute.

So as the ladies devoured this with relish along with the freshly made Moodley’s Beer Bread Greg and I plated up their starter… we had decided on a version of a Ceviche as Greg had recently been to Peru but mindful of the publics aversion to raw fish we had decided to make it with smoked haddock. Little cubes of the fish were marinated for about two hours in fresh lime juice along with finely chopped shallots, diced chilli and we also added some freshly chopped dill. We arranged the fish on the plates and alongside this we served a bed of fresh pea shoots and a salad of grated celeriac and apple remoulade. It all looked delicate and tasty with zingy freshness. It was equally devoured with plates wiped clean!

Main course was fish again… I had been informed the Kelly was not a big red meat eater so we had decided to stick with fish. This time we served up a selection of fish, a fillet of fresh Sea Bass, a chunk of Salmon, a King Scallop and some freshly poached mussels were arranged on a bed of finely sliced fennel, samphire (seaweed) and carrot and with a dash of white wine we encased the fish in a paper bag and then when placed in a hot oven the steam within cooked the fish. Much frivolity was had as we served the bags to guests as we joked the bags were not edible just the contents. A butter sauce boiled new potatoes and a salad of green beans with cobnuts and cob nut oil were served alongside.

The noise levels deadened as they all tucked in and then rose as they sat back and gossiped as they do! Greg and I were busy ensuring the kitchen was kept tidy and we prepared the next course. We felt an indulgent Lemon Posset would go down well, this old English dessert would be a winner and we served ours in a glass with a mound of fresh raspberries and some freshly baked warm butter shortbread biscuits.

Kelly had like any good host got her best stuff out and well the cutlery was something of beauty and very apt “bling”. Polished Sheffield Steel with monogrammed hilts (double medals incorporated into 2004 and KH) that had apparently been given to her by the Mayor of Sheffield. We stood the teaspoons into the glasses and it set the dish off perfectly!

We had expected the ladies to perhaps have struggled at this stage but again they devoured with relish and clean glasses returned to the kitchen.

Finally we served some local cheeses, I had made a visit up to Winterdale Shaw on the top of Wrotham Hill for their Cheddar cheese. I also was keen to use some Stichleton as well but a rogue batch of this unpasteurised Stilton style cheese meant they only had the Colston Basset Stilton so we took that. Along with a hunk of Smoked Winterdale Shaw we had our cheese boards and with some home-made Banana Jam and the Porridge Oat biscuits completed the picture.

By this time the ladies were well and truly struggling and the extra shortbread biscuits we served up with the coffee were packaged up to take home along with the selection of Damian Allsop water ganache chocolates. I had spent the day with Damian at a food festival up in the Cotswolds and heard more of his story (something for a later post) and a box of his chefs collection was stored away in Kelly’s larder for later consumption!

We loaded up the car and then sneaked a few last minute photos with Kelly and her guests. It had been a great night and total pleasure to cook for some wonderfully appreciative guests. Meeting and cooking for Kelly had been a real pleasure and as Kelly then quizzed Greg as to what was next, she fished for more info but we deftly fielded the questions as his “Non Disclosure Agreements” could not be breached but we felt they had got the gist they had eaten like Kings… well almost.

Shh… Covert Cookery lessons – it’s fun with fish now…

Well next in our series of covert cookery lessons we thought we would do something with a product oft maligned and feared by the cook.

We thought the use of fish would whet the appetite and would also give you budding chefs chance to hone some more of those knife skills with the following planned itinerary

09:30 am – Arrival and greeting with coffee/tea & biscuits

The following Lunch Menu served at circa 12:30pm will be

Tassette “Lady Mariniere”

– a small cup of a delicate prawn, saffron & Pernod soup

● ● ●

Fillets of fish “en papillote”

– the prepared fillets of fish steamed in a paper bag served

with a classic butter sauce.

New Potatoes

● ● ●

Apple Tart Tatin

– classic upside down glazed apple tarts served with a dollop of creme fraiche

● ● ●

The lesson will include the following:-

●  Filleting the fish – how to fillet both a flat & round fish

●  Making a simple fish stock

●  Chopping vegetables for the soup and making the soup

●  Making a tart tatin.

There are 2 spaces per lesson and so it will be very much “hands on” one to one tuition and could ideally suit a novice or nervous cook as well as those more competent looking to hone their skills. (Please advise your level on the booking form so we can balance the classes)

Recipe Sheets and Hari Covert Apron will be included to take away at the end of the day.

Suggested Donation per person £75 including the lunch – please bring your own wine if you so wish. Water provided.

Proposed Dates are as follows 12th, 13th, 26th or 27th February 2013

To Book your places then please complete the following form.

We will contact you within 24-48 hours to confirm your place with a credit card number.

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


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.


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.