Tag Archives: Kent

Gruel like you have never had…

Porridge Oat Biscuits plus Banana and Date Chutney

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers

Hari

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A disguise dilemma at the first Pantiles Food Festival…

I was approached a while back to appear at the first Pantiles Food Festival in Tunbridge Wells to give a little talk about how I have set up my little venture and to also spill the beans (pun intended) on the highs and lows of my expiriences…

I felt it was also important to try and maintain my anonymity at the event so my only demand has been they provide me with a Balaclava…

I have been warned by many that it will be a bit hot under the balaclava so my dilemma now is should I go “au naturelle” or covered up!!!

I guess you will all have to wait and see when I take to the stage on Sunday May 22nd at 4pm

Masked or unmasked that is the question…?

Hope to see you all there…

Cheers
Hari

Tasty little morsels for Mr & Mrs Smith…

An English summer wedding has something quintessentially British about it and we recently did some canapés for one on a Farm!!

Canapés can be a great ice breaker at such events as the guests arrive from the ceremony eager to relax and get into the party mood.

We had the challenge of presenting our selection of seven varieties to the guests with no kitchen facilities or running water so the important factors to consider was logistics and planning.

We had a simple selection that we hoped would also appeal to the cross section of guests from children to grandparents… it was important to ensure no nasty surprises or outlandish concoctions.

So we managed to serve nearly 1000 little tasty morsels of the following Black Olive Tapenade on Toasts and then as a colour contrast we served creamed goats cheese with apple as the parents of the groom are major Apple growers so we felt fitting to use this fruit in some form or other.

We also incorporated some dried apple into some pork meatballs that we served in a spicy tomato and chilli sauce that got devoured with gusto. Using little gem lettuce leaves as the base we then topped these with either some classic peeled prawns in a marie rose sauce or poached shredded chicken and cucumber in a peanut and sesame oil dressing.

Finally some classic tortilla wraps filled with chopped smoked salmon and cream cheese rolled and sliced added another flavour combination and popular with the children were the cheese straws presented in giant tea cups with a tomato and chilli salsa dip.

The bride and groom arrived on a flat bed trailer pulled by an enormous tractor, the weather held the canapés were devoured and as I departed the guests were seated in a massive barn tucking into an 110kg Hog Roast.

A great way for Mr & Mrs Smith to start their married life together… congratulations all round I think!

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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

All in the intrest of good food…

Liquid Gold… 
The last couple of days has been a labour of love for me… I have been collecting some of the special ingredients for the forthcoming dinner and in the interest of good food I just had to go and collect them personally!

The cheese from Winterdale Shaw and the Lamb from Glovers was one excursion then today it started with a quick visit to Hurstwood Farm to collect some Cobnut Oil…

I met the main man Mr Dain who gave me a quick tour and I was fascianted to see the recently installed oil press and hear about the plans to also start production of walnut oil as well.A quick look at the orchards and a discourse with Mr Dain on the joys of dealing with the supermarkets and their buyers left me wanting more… I look forward to a return visit and also tasting their roasted cobnut oil… Mr Dain was waxing lyrically about it.

Next I headed off to the coastal town of Whitstable for lunch at Jo Jo’s where we enjoyed a stunning lunch looking out onto the sea and watched the acrobatic wind and kiteboard surfers make the most of the brisk winds and the plethora of windmills on the horizon gently turning.

It was a great lunch of assorted Meze after which we then headed off down the road to nearby specialist bakery ABO to get the inside track on the making of not only gluten free breads but the breads are all made without yeast.

Owner Ingrid has been known to me for some twenty years and her passion for breadmaking is infectious and the lengths she goes to is stunning. They even mill their own seeds as she maintains they are purer and tastier. A little pot of dried alpine flowers from the Austrian Alps she specially imports at considerable costs drew much admiration. The 400 euro price tag produced a sharp intake of breath though.

An interesting selection of breads will now be offered to our diners at the up coming right royal feast and watch this space for some exciting news about a new venture we will soon be offering.

 The mill for the seeds…    the breads…

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.

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…

Battle of the Ice Creams…

Well this was a different type of “Ice Cream Wars” afoot at Taywell Ice Creams as we judged what have been dubbed the “Seven Wonders of Taywell”!!!

The flavours we were asked to pass comment upon were as follows

Sorbets :

Blood Orange & Campari

Red Bull & Vodka

Ice Creams :

Liquorice

Coffee & Tia Maria

Strawberry & Mascarpone

Damson & Sloe Gin

Jack Daniels

Well the competition was very close and I can now announce the one with the most 3 stars awarded and gets the “Twuddle” seal of approval was… Strawberry & Mascarpone… in fact next was the Coffee & Tia Maria and also with this the Liquorice. The Liquorice slightly ahead if you take into account the question would you buy it… 18 said yes against 16 for the Coffee one.

The Blood Orange and Campari was voted best sorbet of the night with 10 “3 stars” votes and then 8 “2 stars” and 17 votes to purchase. The least favourite of the tasting was the Red Bull and Vodka with a resounding 15 stating they would not purchase against 7 who would… they were not surprising the younger faction of the tasters.

The comments ranged from “Fruity & Refreshing” to “not too sweet, liked the bitterness of the Campari” for the winning sorbet whilst for the Red Bull & Vodka ranged from “Too sweet”, “Bubble Gum like” and “Ew! Sickly” to “This one is fun” and a “Nice Kick to it”, overall though it was felt not our taste.

With the Ice Creams we had a wide range of comments. Firstly the winning flavour had comments like “Lovely creamy flavour”, “Delicious”, “Everything screams “EAT ME”!” and simply put “Amazing”

The Coffee & Tia Maria raised some debate that whilst it had “Lovely strong coffee flavour”, “Om Nom” (not sure what this meant?) and “Really like it but can’t taste enough Tia Maria” it was felt the addition of some coffee grounds could provide a textural interest to a very creamy ice cream. One person suggested the addition of sponge finger pieces and you would have an amazing Tiramisu Ice cream.

It was however the Liquorice that provided the biggest debate and I believe surprise for Alastair. The comments ranged from “I normally hate liquorice but that is gorgeous, “fantastic idea, delicious” to a fair few stating simply “Love It”. One comment summed it up “made Liquorice bearable” and “don’t like Liquorice normally”

It was for me the most interesting and surprising of the night as it really did bring back some childhood memories of Sherbet Fountains and Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts!!!

The Damson and Sloe Gin was also well received and felt to be amazingly “fruity” and “creamy”. In fact was one person’s outright favourite. We have photographic evidence he licked the plate clean!!!

The Jack Daniels for some strange reason was forgotten off the tasting sheets so perhaps did not get a true appraisal, so my apologies. Overall we gave them all a good test and I am sure we would all be up for a return visit if needed to!!!

So to recap with the “Seven Wonders of Taywell”

Twuddle Seal of Approval Strawberry and Mascarpone

Highly RecommendedLiquorice… and then Coffee & Tia Maria

(Amazingly both similar colours)

Best SorbetBlood Orange & Campari

Cheers

Hari Covert

Marmite Ice Cream… a flavour to far?

(polls)