This is a sponsored post
I’ve raved about Cranks before when I partnered with them on my Homity Pie re-vamp, Swiss-Style Homity Pie, so when they got in touch to ask if I would be interested in hosting a Cranks Supperclub to celebrate the launch of the new Winter Menu down at the Cranks Kitchen in Totnes, Devon, I jumped at the chance!
Hosting a supperclub sounded like a lot of fun, (a supperclub is basically a pop-up restaurant in your own home). Well-established and regular supperclubs can do really well, and be great fun for both hosts and guests. Take a look at this Guardian article for tips on starting your own! However, rather than unleashing my food on the unsuspecting general public, I opted for the slightly safer option of inviting some lovely friends for a Cranks supper instead.
Cranks had asked for the menu to be ‘inspired by’ their new Winter Menu, (you can sneak a peek here – or even better, pop in next time you’re in Devon!). After much procrastination, I came up with the following:
- Starters inspired by Cranks’ lighter lunch options – served canapé style, as standing-up nibbles with bubbly.
- Main my own take on the Cranks’ Moroccan Tagine, served with cous cous, flatbreads and hummus.
- Dessert inspired by the luscious Banana & Maple porridge from the breakfast menu… Banana & Maple Cheesecake with an oaty biscuit crumb.
I was really pleased with how the starter-nibbles turned out – they were fairly substantial, hot mini-bites which were perfect with a cold glass of Prosecco. The three Cranks Kitchen-inspired canapés were:
- Mini Homity Pies – wholemeal pastry crust filled with the traditional creamy potato filling, which I ‘cranked up’ with some cheese, leeks and parsley.
- Mini Baked Potatoes with herby whipped cheese – these were just baby new potatoes baked whole for 35 minutes, then filled with a whisked mixture of cream cheese, lemon juice and lots of parsley, and topped with cress.
- Brie and Red Onion Marmalade Mini-Panini – basically a brie and red onion marmalade sandwich buttered on the outside of the bread, then baked for 20 minutes, sliced into bite-sized chunks, and served on a cocktail stick.
Next came the main course. Cranks Kitchen has a fabulous winter-warmer tagine on their menu, and I decided to take the idea and make my own Moroccan-inspired Lemony Sweet Potato & Olive Tagine, full of preserved lemons, dried apricots, chilli and cinnamon, bringing a little whiff of North Africa to this chilly corner of Hertfordshire.
I’ve written up the recipe below if you’re interested in trying it yourself. And having made too much and eaten it for three days in a row, I can confirm that it gets better with age, so this is great to make in advance if you’re entertaining!.
In the mad rush to get food to the table I completely forgot to photograph my little chilli flatbreads which were served with the main course, primarily to dunk in the hummus below.
These were super-easy to make, just a basic bread dough spiked with a little chilli, divided into 12 and each part rolled thinly, then dry-fried in a frying pan for a minute each side until golden brown and starting to blister. I wrapped them in a clean tea towel until serving, to keep them warm and soft. The thinner you roll your flatbreads, the more likely they are to turn crispy a few minutes after cooking, but wrapping them seems to keep in the steam and leaves them softer for longer.
And of course, no Moroccan-inspired feast would be complete without some homemade hummus, and I used my trusty roasted garlic hummus recipe which I posted a few months ago.
I have a huge tub of this left over which is such a bonus – lunchtimes have been hummus-based all week, yum!
And finally, dessert! There were no puddings on the Cranks Kitchen menu online so, inspired by the Banana & Maple Porridge on the breakfast menu, (doesn’t that sound awesome? I’m going to try making some tomorrow!), I created these individual Banana & Maple Oaty Cheesecake Cups, served in my lovely champagne saucers, (which are actually a bit of a pain to drink bubbly out of, but fab to serve puddings in!).
These are easy-peasy to make – a biscuity base made from oaty biscuits, (I used Hob-Nobs!), then the white chocolate cheesecake filling I used for my Blackberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake Cups back in September, topped with fresh banana slices, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a sprinkle of the oaty biscuit crumbs to finish. They were really yummy, but deceptively large and we were all a bit stuffed after the first two courses, so must remember to half-fill these glasses next time I use them!
Overall, we all had a lot of fun, and Cranks Kitchen in Totnes is firmly on our must-visit list next time we’re in the south-west.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red onions sliced
- 3 garlic cloves peeled & crushed
- 2 tsp fresh ginger peeled and grated
- 3 large sweet potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks
- 400 g tin chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 red chilli finely sliced
- 2 small preserved lemons finely chopped (include all the peel and pulp)
- 2 tsp vegetable stock powder
- 3 tbsp pitted olives I used purple olives, but use whatever colour you have to hand
- 100 g dried apricots finely chopped
- juice of ½ a lemon
- handful fresh coriander and parsley
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish, and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, ginger, sweet potatoes and chickpeas and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the turmeric, honey, chilli, preserved lemons & stock powder, then cover with boiling water and simmer gently for 15 minutes, covered with a lid.
Add the olives and apricots, season with salt, and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. You may need to add a little more water to create a thick sauce-like consistency.
Stir through two thirds of the fresh herbs and the lemon juice, stir well, then divide between bowls and scatter with the remaining herbs and pine nuts.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Cranks, who paid me to host the supperclub. All opinions are my own.