How to crystallise flowers

Personally I just love flowers and I love to use them for decorating cakes. They are just so simple but transform a cake into a piece of art.

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So all you need is a lightly beaten egg white, superfine caster sugar and a pastry brush.

I used violas and pansies! Just very lightly brush with egg white and sprinkle over the sugar. I placed my sugar coated pansies onto baking paper but I would probably suggest using a metal cooling rack as I found that some of the flowers had stuck to the paper once they had dried.

Leave to dry ideally overnight. And then they will be ready for decorating cakes or even cocktails!

Here’s some beautiful ideas decorated with fresh flowers!

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Béchamel Pasta Al Forno Recipe

As promised…

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I wanted to share a really simple recipe inspired from a pasta dish I had in Grottammare Alta.

Simply courgette, mushroom and béchamel with penne giganti.

The beauty of this dish is you can use any ingredients you want!

Ingredients

Béchamel Sauce

100 grams Butter
100 grams Plain Flour
1 litre Whole Milk
1 White Onion (peeled and cut in half)
1 Bay Leaf
Handful of grated Parmesan
Pinch of finely grated Nutmeg

And the rest

500g Penne Gigante
3 Garlic Cloves (chopped finely)
400g Mushrooms (I like to used a mixture of chestnut, white and wild mushrooms)
Handful of dried porcini mushrooms
3 Courgettes
A glass of White Wine (for the sauce!)
Sale e Pepe!
1 Mozzarella Ball

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
1 Let’s start with your béchamel sauce. Pour your milk into a saucepan. Add your onion and bay leaf. Gently bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for around 20 minutes.

2 Melt the butter in another saucepan, then add the flour. Stir continuously until a paste forms (roux). Continue cooking for 2 mins.

3 Remove the onion and bay leaf from the milk with a slotted spoon and discard. Add the infused milk to the roux gradually, stirring as you go, until you get a smooth sauce. Cook for 5-10 mins, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste. Add the Parmesan and nutmeg, stir until fully incorporated.

4 Cook the pasta, according to the manufacturers instructions.
When you strain the pasta, preserve some of the water. It’s great for loosening a sauce if too thick but it helps the sauce stick to the pasta.

5 Meanwhile roughly chop the mushrooms and dice the courgettes.

6 Tip the mushrooms, courgette and garlic into a large non-stick saucepan and add 2-3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and water. Cook gently, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft.

7 Meanwhile put the porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and just cover the mushrooms with boiling water. Leave to soak until the porcini has softened.

8 Pour the white wine into the saucepan with the courgettes and mushrooms. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Turn to a simmer, add the porcini mushrooms and the infused porcini water. Cook for a further five minutes.

9 Now mix your three elements together. Pour the pasta into your béchamel sauce and add the courgette/mushroom mixture.

10 Transfer the pasta into an oven proof serving dish. Roughly tear the mozzarella ball over the top of your pasta and pop in the oven for around 10-15 minutes until the top of the pasta bake is golden.

11 Perfecto it’s now ready to serve, this would easily serve up to eight people. Serve with some fresh bread and a crisp salad.

Bon Appetit!

Grottammare Alta II The Bakers Food Trip to Italy

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Grottammare Alta was an extremely lucky find, for both of us it was pure heaven.

Initially we visited during the day.

Hollie

After previously visiting Italy this place had the real wow factor. Everything you could possibly imagine Italy to be, this small town encompasses all your imaginary thoughts.

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Caffè Fleurie

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Situated in the piazza. It was an unforgettable experience with wonderful service from a young chap. We just had to return on numerous occasions.

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He explained how the whole piazza became alive on an evening. Unbeknown restaurants would appear! Hollie managed to accidentally stumble across some shops that had appeared, much to Davide’s relief!

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Ele Wedding
A truly talented lady and stunning items. You may have noticed Hollie’s apron in The Olive Stone, it was found in the lovely grotto style shop.

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Grottammare Alta is trendy and in a gorgeous location. The town inhabits fashionable Italians and talented individuals. There was even a pop-up shop! Who would have though?!

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Now the important bit food!

Now I don’t know about you but for us, we hate it when we visit a restaurant and the menu is the length of the leaning Tower of Pisa! It just makes us question how fresh and nutritious are the meals? To our relief in Grottammare Alta we visited two secret restaurants…

Osteria dell’Arancio

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Situated in the piazza, you couldn’t help but wonder if you were in actual heaven. It was welcoming and beautiful. Loud yet still. It was just out of this world and excitingly the menu was limited to a choice of three first and second plates or a set menu.

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Davide was hungry and opted for the four course set menu.

Hollie choose Aubergine Parmigiana which was Davide’s first plate. Both in agreement it was the best we had ever had!

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Hollie

I choose gnocchi. The chef actually served my second plate, apologising that the gnocchi dish was a sell out so instead he served me ricotta tortelloni with a sage butter and a pea & spinach purée. I was absolutely ecstatic, it’s favourite meal and I would have choose it, had it been on the menu!

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Salsamenteria San Giovanni

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Luckily we managed to pre book as it was really busy. We sat in a smallish open courtyard with large olive trees and twinkling lights. When we sat down we ordered our vino and once served we asked for the food menu but our waiter explained that there was no menu!

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You were served an antipasti, pasta, a meat plate then dessert and wow what an experience!

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We had the opportunity to taste food that we might not have chosen and it certainly wasn’t disappointing!

The pasta al forno was so simple yet so tasty. When we returned home Hollie adapted the recipe.

On our next post we will share this simple recipe for you to try at home.

So that you too can experience the taste of the Grottammare Alta!

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Hollie and Davide

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Castel di Lama ll The Bakers Food trip to Italy

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At the end of June we had a fabulous holiday in Pescara situated on the East coast of Italy. Of course we experienced amazing weather, incredible food, friendly locals and tasty wine.

Therefore we want to share our experiences and inspirations with you all. We want to share recipes that we have adapted from our recent trip. Watch out for regular blog updates.

We stayed in a beautiful stately home Borgo Storico Seghetti Panichi, with stunning gardens and buildings. It’s the most tranquil place to unwind with a glass of the local pecorino wine and antipasti.

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We arrived at the boutique hotel at around 11 in the evening and we has the warmest welcome from Andrea. After a long day of travelling the tall made sure we had something to eat and drink!

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Olive ascolane (frittura mista all’ascolana)

The small balls are olives stuffed with meats, breadcrumbed and then fried.
We both promised ourselves we would be fearless when it came to trying new food on our trip. Hollie was challenged mostly but never hesitated, only when it came to calamari!

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After our feast, it was time for bed in our ‘blue’ suite! It just happened we both had blue pjs!

Hollie and Davide

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What’s cooking today?

A big hello to all!
We are starting a blog from today here at The Olive Stone.

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We want to document our very exciting journey with you all, following both Davide and I. We want to share our passion for food with you all, including our top tips, travels and favourite recipes. Giving everyone the opportunity to get to know us two a bit better!

So watch this space!

What’s on offer today?
Triple chocolate brownies
Double chocolate cake with nutella frosting and ripple
Cherry cake with strawberry cream cheese
Sage focaccia rolls
Stuffed loaves
Large focaccias
Baguettes
Artisan flatbreads

All perfect for or with any supper!

Bon appetite
Hollie & Davide

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