Tag Archives: dinner

Too hot to handle…BBQ nights

We have opened bookings and the menu is now live…for our June dinners and they are already filling fast…now fully booked on the Saturday and nearly full on the Friday night so be quick. Book Here

We will be using our Fire Pit BBQ to cook a range of meats & fish and I am also serving a range of salads with the BBQ items including something pretty unusual… I will have some dried green beans that will have been soaked in advance and then poached in a vegeatble stock and then added to fresh beans and an appropriate dressing. I have imported the dried green beans especially from Switzerland (I know not local) but as a special treat this ingredient will hopefully provide a bit of a talking point and go perfectly with the smoked pork loin from the BBQ … I can’t wait…!

We will also have just the one large table that guests will be sharing. Let’s also hope the rain stays away as I could get a little soggy otherwise!!!

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Maybe Fun… Maybe not…the aftermath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers

Hari

Not quite a Bus Pass Celebration…

Not quite a bus pass celebration…

Well we had an extra little Hari night this weekend for a private party… Party host and birthday girl “Veronica” wanted to celebrate a nearly significant birthday with her close friends in a unique and different way so we duly obliged by opening
our doors for an exclusive dinner…

It had been a hectic week with several trips to London for the day job leaving little time to focus totally on the dinner. Still when
Saturday came it meant a very early start to get the prep work done…

The menu chosen was to showcase some good seasonal produce and we kicked the meal off with some local Asparagus served in a risotto.

Asparagus Risotto…

Next came the main course and having done some awesome new seasons lamb at our right Royal Feast we thought we would serve it again. The lamb was roasted with a wild garlic crumb crust and then served with gratin dauphinoise and some stir fried seasonal greens. A few of the guests who were non-meat eaters were served a wild mushroom quiche with a spicy tomato chilli sauce as the alternative… all got polished off and plates came back pretty well licked clean!

Then the Cheeses served were Winterdale Shaw our a local cheddar and then our Hari’s buttons and a soft French cheese… all with our homemade porridge oat biscuits and homemade Banana & Date chutney

Finally we completed the dinner with a flourless Orange and Hazelnut Torte with a marmalade coulis and a dollop of mascapone.

There was a good buzz to the room as the guests sat round one big table and gladly played musical chairs to mix with each other and Veronica played the perfect host to her guests…

It was a good evening and as guests departed they all seemed well sated…I do hope they enjoyed their special underground dining night…

Cheers

Hari

A right Royal Feast…a report

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Phew… well what a night that was… to celebrate the Royal Wedding we once again returned to Yalding Gardens to host a special dinner.

It has been something of a feel good weekend with what was a second bank holiday for many and the pageantry and pomp of the wedding itself meant we wanted to celebrate the occasion in style.

When we started planning this event we felt an extra course to what we normally serve would be a fitting tribute. It was also planned it should showcase some of our great local produce. In fact we had use of some great produce from the gardens within the menu and then some more unusual products from around the county.

Well we arrived at the Gardens mid afternoon to start our final preparations as our small team all mucked in to get the venue ready.

There had been much work before hand with setting the event up as catering for nearly 50 guests in a kitchen not your own always takes some planning and we also had some running around to source some of the produce we used.

We kicked the evening off with a welcome glass of Bucks Fizz for the guests that we served out on the terrace as it was a lovely tranquil end to a sunny day.

With the welcome drink the nibbles we served some Parmesan Lollipops and then little shot glasses of chilled leek and potato soup with a tumeric kick.

Finally some of our specially sourced rye bread from the Artisan Bakery in Whitstable was used for the final nibble of cream cheese and smoked salmon on Rye.

Guests then sat promptly at 8pm and we kicked the regal dinner off in what we felt was a fitting way. Using some of the fresh young leeks from the gardens we had made pressed leek terrines. Symbolising well the royal connection as father of the groom (HRH the Prince of Wales) the humble leek is the symbol of Wales. With the terrine we served a light and delicate cobnut oil dressing and some toasted cobnuts that were sourced from Hurstwood Farm nr West Peckham. Recipe can be found here

Next came a risotto made with a vegetable stock and then at the last moment flavoured with our locally foraged wild garlic homemade pesto. The addition of mascapone and parmesan ensured a nice creamy risotto and then the addition of a pan fried “King” scallop on top meant we had our royal connection. It seemed like the wiped clean plates that came back meant we had some satisfied guests already.

The main course next we had decided to serve some new season “Spring” lamb. I have in the past tasted some Highgrove estate lamb and the meat we served I have to say compared favourably. Glovers provided us with our chosen cut – the chump and this was roasted and rested to ensure it was served pink and accompanied by some fresh garden spinach and a creamy Gratin Dauphinoise. It was no mean feat to serve all the guests quickly and the team gelled well to ensure this.

Next we served the cheese course, we decided to serve what has become a favourite at our dinners, our local cheddar…Winterdale Shaw.  Cheese-maker Robin Betts has built an impressive little empire with his cheese producing farm and it was on this occasion served with some specially made Banana and Date chutney and our special homemade porridge oat biscuits that seem to be a continued hit.

Finally for the pudding we wanted to showcase a marriage of garden grown rhubarb with some Cinnamon ice cream from Paddock Wood ice cream producer Taywell Ice Cream all served with a Duchy Original shortbread biscuit. Simple but designed to be a light finish to what had been a big meal.

Well as we served coffee with our homemade chocolates (we had one begging for seconds! – no names Joanna!) we began to wind down and clear up. It had been a good night and we had some satisfied guests! I also at this point must pay tribute to my amazing team who did a great job on the night!

In the kitchen Peter had allowed me the freedom to chat and talk to the guests whilst front of house Julia, Ruth, Richard (he had travelled from Oxford to assist me) and Rupert had done sterling work to serve you all
and finally the powerhouse out the back had been Cheryl on wash up… no mean feat as we had no dishwasher working and had to contend with a blocked sink at one stage.

We think it went well and back home over a couple of bottles of red wine and a late night snack of cheese and biscuits we reflected on what we hope you all found to be a successful night and a right royal feast!

Cheers

Hari Covert

Maybe fun…Maybe not…

Well we have now opened the bookings for our next dinners on Friday May 20th and Saturday May 21st.

We will be cooking some great seasonal produce in what we hope you will find a fun way…

We will reveal the menu in due course as we are just putting the final touches to it…

If you wish to book a space at this next dinner then please go to our Book Now page and complete the reservation form.

Cheers

Hari Covert

Covert by name…covert by nature

Countdown to the big night…

Wedding Mania gripping the UK...?

Well we are less than a week away now from our dinner to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton. It is quite a challenge juggling the normal day job whilst trying to arrange a dinner for 48 people in a strange kitchen/venue. I know I have done a dinner at the Gardens before but there is still much to organise.

Leeks are about to be dug so I can start to make the pressed Leek Terrines. I then have to collect the Lamb from our chosen butchers Glovers. I have used them for lamb in the past and been very impressed by the quality so fingers crossed they do not let me down!!!

I will also collect the Winterdale Shaw when I go to collect the meat and then I am also off to Whitstable to collect some rather unusual bread that I wish to show case. The Artisan Bread Co will be supplying some of the breads and I will also be making some of my own.

There will be gluten intolerant diner so I thought this would be a good chance to try out Ingrid Greenfield’s Pea Glutini. I have known Ingrid a long time and bumped into her at last years Real Food Festival and so was keen to visit her bakery so thought this would be a great opportunity.

I will also be popping in to collect some Cobnut Oil from Hurstwood Farm that will go with the terrine.

A truly local bunch of products that we hope you will all enjoy.

Staff for the evening are all booked. I will be assisted in the kitchen by a fellow secret supper club chef and then I will also hopefully have time to mingle with the guests. I will be doing a dummy run with one of the courses this week so hope to post some pictures… in the meantime just watch this space for the May dinner menu that we hope to post shortly (after the right Royal Feast dinner) and remember that’s when the bookings then open so be quick to ensure you get your space.

Cheers

Hari

Hari Covert @your home… another dinner

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Well we seem to be doing something right as we have just completed yet another @your home dinner for a client.

This was to be a birthday celebration that was to entertain some friends of hosts Catherine and birthday boy Jon in a novel and different way.

I duly arrived laden with food and a selection of plates to ensure six hungry guests would be well fed and to prepare the final bits to the chosen menu.

I was also rather lucky as I had a “Hari’s little helper” as well to get stuck into helping in the making of my canapés, which proved to be very useful.

Their son Edward got stuck in and he managed to produce some lovely Parmesan lollipops and some black olive tapenade toasts for me and seemed to show some early signs of being a passionate cook!  The other canapé we served was a smoked salmon roulade with cream cheese flavoured with horseradish.

The table all laid by the host Catherine and the kitchen all neat and tidy meant all I had to do was get their first course ready and once again Hari’s little helper was on hand to give me a helping hand. Their first course was to be a simple but visually appealing dish that I had done at my recent fish tales dinner.

 The use of a paper bag to steam some fresh fish would be the first course. A bed of vegetable julienne (thin matchstick strips) using carrot, leek and fennel was placed onto a damp rectangle of baking parchment. The fish we used was a scallop, sliver of cod and then a Hastings Skate Knob (cheek). Once seasoned and with a splash of white wine and knob of butter the parcels were sealed and placed upon a baking sheet ready to be placed into a very hot pre heated oven to cook for about eight minutes. The paper dries and puffs up with the trapped steam within thus cooking the fish. Served directly to the table in the paper bag means there is an element of theatre at the table as the bags are cut open and the steam escapes. It is a great visual and olfactory sensation.

The next course was a roasted fillet of beef that we served with a Pommes Darphin – grated raw potato that was moulded into a round, a wild mushroom fricassee that included fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms along with some dried cepes, and then a rich red wine jus. The beef we used was an awesome Scottish Extra matured (21 days minimum ageing) fillet. It was good to see all the plates came back cleared so it must have gone down well.

Next we served our little cheese boards that included what is now a firm favourite with us the Winterdale Shaw made by Robin & Carla Betts. An un-pasteurised milk cheddar style cheese from the top of Wrotham Hill. With this we also served a Stichleton that was outstanding and seemed to go down very well.

Finally we served what we believe was “Birthday Boy” Jon’s favourite pudding some Hazelnut meringues which we sandwiched with a mascarpone cream flavoured with orange and marmalade and then we served a chocolate and hazelnut sauce over the top of them and some orange segments and candid zest.

It like the rest of the meal was pretty well polished off and some contented diners seemed well relaxed as I loaded up the car and headed home.

If you would like to book something similar then please just complete the form here and we will contact you to discuss in more detail.

Winners took it all…a report

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Well it was the climax of our fundraising efforts for the Hospice in the Weald with our prize draw and the winner taking it all with Björn Again

It was a lovely sunny Friday in Tunbridge Wells when I got a call from Andy the tour manager for them to say they had arrived at the Assembly Hall and they were looking forward to their dinner!

As I loaded up my car and set off for the Assembly Hall… It was the culmination of some four months of fundraising and as I set up for the supper in the bar area and awaited the arrival of David Cross, his wife Adele and friends Linda and John to the sound check I chatted with Rod Stephens the director and creator of the Abba show. They had been on their current tour of the UK since early March and had just a few more shows to give before a well -earned rest.

The crew was setting up lighting rigs, all the props required for their show as I attempted to get the oven lit in the kitchen – a simple task you would have thought –  to find it all a bit of a challenge. Some in-house assistance finally meant the oven was lit and their main course was in getting ready.

The VIP guests then arrived and Rod charmingly took over and whisked them off for a gander of their tour bus parked out the back… It has three lounges and sleeping berths for 12 people. They sleep on the coach as they move from one venue to the next… when you look at their schedule they sure clock up the miles. The night prior to Tunbridge Wells they had been in Milton Keynes and then the Saturday night they would be in Bath and Sunday night their last night of the Spring Break tour would be in Wycombe.

Table set and helper Amy from the Hospice now arrived we get a chance to watch a bit of the sound check and then promptly at 5pm the cast crew with their guests all sit down for their supper. I had previously cooked at the venue for them so knew a simple meal would go down best so they then tucked into a warm mixed vegetable frittata that was served on bed of salad leaves and then followed this with either a homemade cottage pie or homemade fish pie. To round it all off they had an Orange and Hazelnut Torte with a Marmalade Mascapone Cream or local Winterdale Shaw cheese and creamy Stichleton with our porridge oat biscuits.

They were all very appreciative of our efforts to feed them they had soon pretty much polished off all that we had prepared. As they dispersed to get themselves ready we cleared up, packed up and then begun to relax in the bar with a well-earned drink as the Assembly Hall begun to fill up.

Two volunteers Candy & JJ (their stage names) who were invited by the Hospice and tasked for a collection of loose change at the end of the show arrived in their full Abba get up. They had their photos taken with Rod and even gave him a quick demo of their singing skills hoping they would get a chance to appear on stage!!! He very politely was complimentary but very non committal!!!

The venue filled and more arrived dressed in their Abba style glad rags…the Tunbridge Wells atmosphere Rod described as being very unique as the crowd dance from the very first number as the stall seats are removed.

Just before the show had kicked off our prize winners had their photos taken with the cast backstage and then they settled in to enjoy the show David and John beside the lighting and sound console whilst the ladies sat back in their seats to enjoy!

The Hospice collection volunteers headed for the front of stage… Candy and JJ’s perfected moves certainly caught the eyes of the girls on stage as they bonded for a photograph at the interval backstage and it was spookily uncanny how alike they all looked (well almost!!!)

The second half of the show continued with all those classic Abba hits from Dancing Queen to Mamma Mia. The boys onstage even had fun with their version of Jump by Van Halen whilst the girls did another costume change. The shows finale was a great singalong encore with  “Thank You for the Music”.

The collection front of house was the final fundraising push and I hope to be able to reveal the final total including the bucket collection very soon.

David, Adele, John & Linda headed back to the Ramada Jarvis Hotel at Pembury as they had generously provided overnight accommodation for them as part of the total package where they could unwind and reflect upon their day’s experience …( I am led to believe they had a drink in the bar with the guitarist as he was also staying there!)

Candy & JJ the Fabba girls headed off for a well-earned bag of chips.

The cast and crew packed their set away and boarded the tour bus.

I headed home… to find I had left my cutlery behind in the kitchen so quickly returned to retrieve it as breakfast the next day would have been messy!!!… Seats back in the stalls and the stage virtually all cleared it had been a great night…

So my big thanks to all who had made it happen and donated or supported me it was all for a great cause and especially to Rod and all from Björn Again for their generous warmth and hospitality.

I also hope to have a few more pictures to provide a pictorial memory for you all as well.

Fish Tales…a cod piece of a story

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Well that is another month’s dinners done and dusted… Why fish tales we hear you ask – well it’s all a bit of a fishy story…

I started (to coin a phrase “this journey”) about a year ago and it continues to grow from strength to strength and once again we were filled with guests both new and old (some old ones commenting it’s now too hard to get in!)

I do however like to ensure those that have not tried us get the chance so please do make sure you follow our booking procedure and book early to ensure your place. I only allow tables to the next dinners to be booked once we have completed our dinners.

So as I said for this month we had yet again a full house with a wide range of guests eager to try our fish inspired menu. The idea was to showcase a range of cooking methods flavours and combinations in a balanced and I hope imaginative way.

The nibbles we served with a welcome glass of Kir Normande (French Cider with Crème de Cassis) were a rich dark black olive tapenade with the addition of anchovies, a smoked salmon roulade filled with cream cheese and finally a little shot glass with a delicate smoked haddock and leek velouté. They all seemed to go down well and one person commented on the tapenade in particular!

For the first course we served Skate Cheeks or what are sometimes known as  “Knobs” It seemed most guests had never tried this difficult to obtain cut of fish but I had decided to source my fish this month from Hastings so the day before the first dinner I had driven to Hastings to collect my order.

The three dozen knobs I required represented 18 fish and they ranged in size from golf ball sized to as big as my fist. I then removed the flesh from the two large bones and effectively made them into even sized pieces.

I had decided to keep it very simple by cooking them in a paper bag… Taking a rectangle of greaseproof paper/baking parchment and initially soaking it in water when placed on the work surface I added a little mound of vegetable julienne (thin matchstick pieces of blanched carrot, leek and fennel) Placing the skate on top of this with a splash of white wine and seasoning I then fold the package tight ensuring the fish is sealed in tightly. Baking the parcel in a very hot oven for about 6-7 minutes until the paper has dried and puffed as the steam enclosed within has cooked the fish. A very simple classical cooking process known as “en papillote” resulted in a delicate way to start the meal.

Next from my trip to Hastings I also had bought a stone (the old imperial weight still used by fishmongers) of day boat caught Cod Fillets. The boats are all raised onto the shingle beach and are the last remaining large fishing fleet to do this in the UK. I trimmed and prepped the fish and decided to serve it pan roasted on top of a bed of crushed new potatoes. The new potatoes were boiled and then added hot to a dressing of olive oil with the addition of chopped capers, roasted caramelised onions and chopped chives. The addition of the potatoes added whilst still hot makes them soak up the oil and gives the mix a lovely rich & deep flavour. I served our ubiquitous green beans and a light butter sauce and the final addition of some deep fried capers scattered around.

It all seemed to go down well and the plates came back clean – always a good sign.

I then served our much loved cheese boards with a selection of specially selected cheeses. Our local one called Winterdale Shaw (the award winning cheddar cheese). A French Tomme d’Ariege from the Pyrenees made with goat, sheep and cows milk. A soft French Pié d’Angloys and finally a Hari’s Button made a re-appearance. The porridge oat biscuits seemed to garner many compliments and these were devoured with gusto!

To complete the meal I then served a chocolate and hazelnut torte that was also “Gluten Free” as it was made like a baked chocolate mousse. The addition of a marmalade coulis and a dollop of Cornish clotted cream with a scattering of toasted chopped Kentish Cob Nuts was the final flourish that once again got devoured with shall we say contented gusto by guests…

It has been a very busy period for me, what with some private functions.  We also are now are just a few days away from cooking for our prizedraw winners at the fast looming Björn Again show in Tunbridge Wells and then another private at yourHome dinner for guests the next night!

So our next main event will be on Saturday April 30th and this time it will be back at Yalding Gardens. We will be once again hosting a special night to celebrate the forthcoming “Royal” marriage. Bookings are now open and we have a few places to fill so please do feel free to spread the word. We promise you it will be a fun filled night and you can check out the menu here  – we hope to see you there.

Cheers

Hari Covert…

A right Royal Feast… a night to remember?

Well we have been asked back to Yalding Gardens following the success of last years Apple Day Dinner and this time we will be cooking and serving a special dinner to celebrate the Royal wedding of “William & Kate”…. so make a note of the date…

Date: Saturday April 30th 2011

Time: 7:30pm Aperitif and Nibbles

Dinner: Served 8pm

Cost: A suggested minimum donation of £40 per person includes the welcome aperitif

(A small wines and drinks list will be offered on the night at additional reasonable prices)

We will be serving 48 guests on six tables of 8 so there will be a need to share tables unless you book as a party of 8

The menu will be as follows subject as always to market purchases and availability

Pressed Terrine of ” Yalding Gardens” Spring Leeks

served with toasted Kent cob nuts and cobnut oil dressing

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Risotto of  locally foraged Wild Garlic topped with a “Hastings” Skate Knob

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Roasted Chump of Kentish Lamb with a light redcurrant jus

Gratin Dauphinoise and Green Beans

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The award winning “Winterdale Shaw” local Cheddar

 served with a homemade Banana & Date Chutney, Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Roasted Spring Rhubarb Gratin, Taywell Cinnamon Ice Cream, Duchy Original Shortbread Biscuit

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Coffee served with Homemade Chocolates

We have tried to provide a royal connection to each course and celebrate with great seasonal and locally sourced products which we hope you will appreciate.

To reserve your places please complete the following form and in the comments box please state “Yalding Gardens”. If there are any special dietary needs please let us know. We will then make contact with you to take a credit card number to confirm your places.