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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…

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Winner takes it all…

Well we have had a very generous bunch of people donate an amazing £498.00 and the 28 names have all been placed in the “Sparkly Hat” – it really was one – a previous gift from Rod Stephens the creator and director of Björn Again to my daughter… I thought it was only fitting it should hold all the names.

Since late November last year when I had asked Rod to let me bring 4 VIP guests to see the show and the payback would be I would feed them and their guests I have worked hard to get the message across that this is a very unique “money cant buy” package.

So on Friday 25th March the winner and their guests will firstly check into their overnight accommodation courtesy of the Ramada Jarvis Hotel at Pembury. Then they will be asked to get down to the Assembly Hall in central Tundbridge Wells by circa 4pm where they will get introduced to the cast and crew and be given the chance to watch the sound check and see the backstage paraphernalia that goes into the production of this show.

At 5pm along with the cast and crew they will all sit down with our prize winner and be fed by yours truly… it will be a simple meal that hopefully not weigh too heavy on them as they will in a couple of hours be strutting their stuff on stage and entertaining a capacity house!

The cast and crew are a very friendly bunch eager to ensure you will get the most out of your evening and there will be no pressure to have two of you appear on stage but well it is a rare chance to hear the applause, appreciation and adulation after they complete their show…

You will then go back to spend your complimentary night at the Ramada Jarvis Pembury whilst the crew and cast break down their rig and then bed down for the night on their tour bus before they then head off to their next show in Bath on the Saturday night!

So I guess you all want to know who the winner is well…

The winner who takes it all is…..

the draw @ the Hospice in the Weald with the sparkly hat...

 

 

DAVID CROSS

Cheers

Hari Covert

Thank you for all your support…

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)

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.

Game on… February 2011

Game On Menu…

Welcome aperitif and nibbles

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Wood Pigeon Breast served “Two ways”

With a Green Bean and Kent Cobnut Salad

and a Chinese Black Bean Sauce

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Butternut Squash Risotto topped with pan-fried Venison Liver

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Supreme of Pheasant with a cider jus bacon and baby onions

Braised Red Cabbage

New Potatoes

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Chocolate Cardamom Bread & Butter Pudding

served with a glass of dessert wine

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Coffee & Petit Fours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers

Hari Covert

Covert by name, covert by nature

food for lovers & lovers of food…feb 2011

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

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

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

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

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Warm Roasted Aubergine, Red Pepper & Cumin Terrine

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

served with a light sherry jus.

Pommes Lyonnaise

Green Beans wrapped in pancetta

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Hari’s Selection of Cheeses with Porridge Oat Biscuits

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Roasted Rhubarb Tart with Walnut Ice Cream

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Coffee with petit fours 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers

Hari

Twuddle Personality of the Year 2010…

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

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

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

Hari

Gift Vouchers…

Something extra from Hari Covert…

Hari Covert Gift Vouchers…

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers

Hari Covert

Covert by name and nature…

Chocolate Fest…

CHOCOLATE FEST… FRIDAY 19TH & SATURDAY 20TH MARCH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Eating

Hari Covert

Covert by name, covert by nature