Wine Tasting at Veeno

Wine Tasting at Veeno

 

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A few weeks ago an exciting email popped into my inbox. An invitation for myself and a friend to try the Selezione wine tasting at Veeno in Harrogate. Exciting on two counts. Firstly, I like wine as much as the next classy lady. Secondly, although I have had many wonderful opportunities via this blog they are rarely so easy that I can walk home from the venue. (Also as a bonus it let me consider what level of wine drinking I feel is appropriate for my hen do next year). I invited my friend Amelia along as she is a fellow foodie, wine enthusiast and all round good egg.

Anyway, back to the wine. Veeno is situated in the heart of Harrogate and while it is part of a new development, the interior definitely gives the feel of a cosy wine cellar. This intimate setting would be perfect for a date, a girls night (like I had) or as part of a larger party. The setting was very relaxed and everybody who worked there was extremely friendly, enthusiastic and knew a lot about wine.

Veeno was established in 2013 by two Italian men in Manchester who loved and missed the Italian Aperitivo. All the wines come from the family vineyard (Caruso and Minini) and there is certainly a sense of pride in the Sicilian wine and food. The business is founded on the Italian idea of relaxing with wine and nibbles after work. Something I think us Brits should get on board with! There are currently 17 Veeno locations across the country and I do highly recommend you visit if you love wine and Italian food.

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The Selezione wine tasting is perfect for those who want to try a range of wine colours – two whites, two reds, a rose followed by a dessert wine. Each wine is paired with a meat or cheese from the Spuntini board of meats and cheeses. Our sommelier (who I seem to remember being called Jake) was helpful and friendly and guided us through the wine tasting experience, but in a relaxed manner. Perfect for a Friday night.

The first wine of the night was a lovely The first wine was a white, a Grillo (“Our Driest”). This was a very dry white but the fantastic thing was that unlike some wines on the drier side it had a fresh, rather than cloying after taste. This was paired with creamy buffalo Mozzarella. We both loved this one the most. Amelia actually ended up buying a bottle of this to take home – needless to say we were impressed!

The wine that followed was “The Wine of Love” Zibibbo. This is one for true Romantics as it was the wine one of the founders Granfathers was drinking in the vineyard when proposing to his wife. This is slightly more of an acquired taste. A very citrussy wine with elements of Earl Grey tea. This was certainly an unusual wine. It was paired with the pecorino and I must say, the saltiness of the cheese cut through this wine nicely.

The whites were followed by the lovely “House Rose”. This was paired with some delicious Speck. I never would have considered pairing a rose with ham (except when I’m sitting at home drinking wine and eating snacks in my pjamas). This wine was crisp and refreshing and I could have gladly drank this all night.

We then moved onto the red wines. I must admit that I have only recently started to like red wines. However the “Experts Only” Perricone was enough to convert me. Although this wine was paired with a delicious Bresaola, we were given some dark chocolate to try with this wine. A revelation as it brought out rich flavours in both the wine and and the chocolate.

Our penultimate wine “The Richest” made from a Nero D’Avola Riserva. Paired with gorgonzola this wine was indeed rich, with different levels of flavour. The smell and taste of this wine were phenomenal and perfect for relaxed drinking. Probably not one I could manage in a great quantity as it was somehow filling. Certainly one I’d recommend to true wine lovers though.

To finish we were given a dessert wine (although not the one in the book as they had run out of this). It was an unusual dessert wine as it was not as sweet as other dessert wines I have had. Nevertheless it was delicious and somehow tasted a bit like cider. I had this with a piece of delicious Tiramisu. Amelia was given lemon sorbet due to dietary requirements (which Veeno were lovely and accommodating about).

As I mentioned above, we were delighted with the level of service we got as well as the fantastic food and wine available. We were already planning our next visit part way through our wine tasting experience.

Click here to find out more about the different Veeno locations across the UK.

There are multiple wine tasting experiences available. Click here to find out more.

We were invited to review Veeno in exchange for a review. However all opinions are our own.

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Sausage, sweet potato and spinach lasagne

Sausage, sweet potato and spinach lasagne

This recipe is one for those days when only something a bit more carb heavy and comforting will do, but at the same time you don’t want healthy eating to go completely out of the window. It was actually born because me really really craving lasagne but only having sausages in and not really being entirely enthusiastic about the whole rigmarole of making bolognese and bechamel sauce on a Thursday night. Still out of laziness comes a lot less food waste and overhearing D telling his friend about a really night lasagne I had made for him, so the recipe seems to have been successful in our house.

To make enough lasagne for 4 people you will need:

1 red onion

1 clove garlic

400g pork and leek sausages removed from their skins

3 large handfuls sweet potato chunks (I used frozen sweet potato)

3 large handfuls fresh spinach

1 teaspoon marjoram

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

150ml creme fraiche (I used low fat but all types work)

20g parmesan (plus extra for the top)

Salt and pepper

Approx 230g passata infused with herbs

125g buffalo mozzarella

4-5 lasagne sheets

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel and chop the onion and peel and crush the garlic. Fry on a gentle heat until soft. Add the skinned sausages and sweet potato chunks and season with the salt, pepper, marjoram and chilli. Cook over a medium heat, breaking up the sausage to smooth out, until the sweet potato has started to soften and the sausage is cooked.Add the spinach, creme fraiche and parmesan and stir until the spinach has wilted and the parmesan has melted into everything.

In a medium casserole dish make a smooth layer of this mixture. Top with your lasagne sheets (no need to pre cook). Pour over your passata. Break your mozzarella over the passata and grate over more parmesan and pepper.

Cook for about 20-25 minutes until the cheese on the top is golden.

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I think this will become part of our regular repertoire.

Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry mascarpone icing

Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry mascarpone icing

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Some things in life just go wonderfully together, avocado and salt, cheese and bread etc. One of my favourite flavour combinations of them all is chocolate and raspberry. The raspberry topping of these cakes is cool and creamy, without being overwhelmingly sour or sickly sweet. Plus, the pink icing is very beautiful and required absolutely no food colouring.

This recipe is another simple way of putting a smile on even the most serious of faces. (I personally like to cheer people up by making them biscuits or cupcakes and then holding them up to my face as eyes, it never fails).

Also, in the name of full disclosure, this recipe makes far too much icing, so I would recommend freezing any you have remaining.

To make a batch of 12 cupcakes you will need:

For the cakes

3 large eggs

170g caster sugar

170g butter

155g self raising flour

15g cocoa powder

For the icing

2 1/2 tablespoons icing sugar

250g mascarpone

About 150g raspberries (I used fresh, but frozen are fine, once defrosted)

2 Cadbury flakes or similar

Preheat the oven to 180°C, line a cupcake tin with cake cases.

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Using an electric whisk beat your eggs and sugar until they leave a trail of mixture over the surface. Sift in your flour and cocoa powder and fold in.Melt your butter and fold in, until your mix is smooth.

Separate the mixture between the 12 cupcake cases. Bake these for approximately 12 minutes until the cakes have risen and are firm. Leave to cool.

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While the cakes are cooling make your raspberry icing by whisking together the mascarpone, icing sugar and raspberries. The berries will soon disintegrate making everything a lovely colour. Using a butter knife cover your cakes, leaving a swirl of the icing.

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Crumble over your chocolate flake and serve. Due to the mascarpone in these, keep refrigerated if you want them to keep more than a couple of days.

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Spinach, goats cheese and pine nut cannelloni

Spinach, goats cheese and pine nut cannelloni

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If you want a recipe to cram about half a kilogram of spinach into your vegetable hating significant other, child or just somebody who is ridiculously picky about vegetables this might be a winner. Spinach has got so many wonderful anti inflammatory properties its nice that its so easily incorporated into a meal.

Anyway, I know pasta and gluten containing products have a bit of a bad reputation for being less healthy, or too heavy; but I did not find this recipe too stodgy. I remained nicely satisfied all evening. Which I think is the purpose of pasta, in moderation it fills you up and stops you creeping to the fridge for a mid evening snack. I admit I was pretty liberal with my cheese adding (I am a dyed in the wool cheese lover) but I used goats cheese and buffalo mozzarella which I find a bit easier to digest.

(As a side note if you do have coeliac disease or a wheat allergy and you do fancy trying this, I suggest you try layering the spinach and tomato with these lasagne sheets I looked up for you that are gluten free. I can be a gem sometimes)

Anyway, you might have noticed I do often cook with meat, but I am trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our diet. Unfortunately this is made slightly more difficult by the fact I am pretty intolerant to a lot of pulses (cry). I don’t particularly like my lentils to be served with a side of agonising stomach cramps etc. Anyway, back to the vegetarian meals; I feel if I can keep making vegetables more exciting I might be able to convince D of the merit of Meat Free Mondays….

To make enough cannelloni to feed 3 (or 2 if your male type person is feeling particularly peckish upon waking up from a night shift) you will need:

Approx 9 cannelloni tubes (you might need more or less depending upon how much filling you get)

About 400g frozen spinach (the water will evaporate)

1 glass white wine

fresh rosemary

1 small onion

1 large clove garlic

salt and pepper

vegetable oil

100g pine nuts

100g soft goats cheese

100g mozzarella

500g passata

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Peel and slice your onion and crush your garlic. Fry over a gentle heat until soft. Add your pine nuts and lightly toast before adding your rosemary, wine, spinach, salt and pepper.

Heat until all of the spinach has loosened and is cooked through. Add your goats cheese and stir until it is fully dispersed.

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Set aside the spinach to cool slightly. Using a teaspoon and your fingers stuff your uncooked cannelloni. If any Italian people want to correct me on how to do this in an authentic way please add a comment! Anyway I was obviously feeling pretty jaunty when I did my food shopping as you can see from the cannelloni I purchased.

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If you have any pine nuts leftover from your pasta stuffing endeavours never fear. Just set them aside for use as topping. (There’s no point wasting them).

Cover your pasta with cold passata. Dot over your mozzarella at random and sprinkle over your pine nuts and a little more rosemary. Season with more salt and pepper as desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the pasta is cooked.

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I can always tell when D particularly likes a meal as he is always up for seconds.

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This might take a little longer to make than most midweek meals but I can assure you the extra effort was well worth it.

One for all you students – 5 ways to feel like you’re winning the toastie game

One for all you students – 5 ways to feel like you’re winning the toastie game

DSC_0110No word of a lie, toasties are still one of my favourite fast foods. During my university career I ate countless toasties due to my sheer love of cheese in all forms. My poison of choice: cheddar cheese, mushrooms and mayonnaise on brown bread. Anyway, here are a few suggestions of what you may have in your cupboards to liven up your mealtimes (a true toastie fan knows they can be eaten around the clock). Obviously ingredients can be substituted and I’ve tried to keep realistic with ingredients. I know student loans only stretch so far.

  1. Make your own tuna melt. I personally never use a full can of tuna in one go, so this is a great way to use up any leftovers. Mix your tuna with a bit of mayonnaise (I usually use light mayo) and season with salt and pepper. Add to any cheese you like.
  2. Use up leftover pasta sauce or enchilada sauce by adding it to a toastie with mozzarella or other mild cheese. A great way to save money and reduce food waste.
  3. If you have 1/2 avocado, sliced avocado, chilli sauce and cheese is dreamy.
  4. Cooked chicken, pesto and strong cheddar (or feta cheese). Mediterranean vibes, even when its raining, you’re sitting in your pyjamas and you have an essay to write.
  5. Try a dessert toastie. If you want to pretend to be healthy banana and Nutella (because of the fruit), otherwise marshmallow and chocolate button is the one. Especially handy to know if your flatmate has had a horrible day and needs cheering up.

If you’re a student returning to university soon, or you’re a Fresher this year have a great year. Even if you aren’t a student, you just love toasted sandwiches; I hope you enjoy these easy ideas to make one of the most simple snacks even more dreamy.

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Goats cheese, ham and rosemary tart

Goats cheese, ham and rosemary tart

IMG_0607 So at the risk of sounding like a broken, pastry obsessed, record; tarts are pretty standard weeknight fare for us. Although pastry is not particularly healthy I feel that the amount of vegetables makes up for this somewhat. Anyway, this is perfect for when you fancy something delicious in less that 30 minutes.

To make ham, goats cheese and rosemary tart you will need:

1 puff pastry sheet (or 1 block of puff pastry)

1 -2 large handfuls fresh spinach

About 10g butter

3 eggs

A splash of milk

Salt and pepper

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 handful ham (I used Yorkshire ham)

2/3 courgette

Approx 100g goats cheese

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Roll out your pastry to the size of your baking tray and use a fork to pierce holes in it. Melt the butter and brush over the pastry. Cover with the spinach and use a peeler to make thin slices of courgette over the tart. Tear your ham and rosemary into small pieces and scatter over the tart. Beat your eggs and milk and pour over the tart. Cut your cheese into small pieces (about 1cm) and top your tart with this along with the salt and pepper. Bake the tart for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisped up.

Blue cheese and hazelnut stuffed mushrooms

Blue cheese and hazelnut stuffed mushrooms

I’ve mentioned before that like most couples, when one of us eats out the one who’s still at home tends to eat what the other is indifferent to (or dislikes). When D is left to his own devices he likes hotdogs, I usually have prawns or mushrooms. So last Friday night I decided to have a vegetarian meal for once.

To make your mushrooms and their stuffing you will need

2 portobello mushrooms

30g blue cheese (I used Harrogate blue)

10g butter (softened)

1 clove garlic

Salt and pepper

20g chopped hazelnuts

(This one goes out to all you mushroom lovers out there!)

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Remove the stalks from your mushrooms and wash them. Mash together the cheese, butter, garlic and hazelnuts. Top the mushrooms with this and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through. I had mine with toast, but this would go well with most things.

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