Fennel Scented Cauliflower with Griddled Sea Bream

15 Apr

No sooner did we get here than it’s time to head back to England. I’ll be sad to leave our beloved mountains again but work beckons and excitingly we’ll also be renovating a property for my parents close by.  We’ll all be round the corner from each other like one big Italian/Spanish family! My dad will even have space to store his beloved Vespa and to continue the family tradition of making their wine for the year with grapes imported from Italy. We have a celebration ahead with both my mum and Big Man reaching special birthdays within days of each other. Friends from Spain will be flying over to England to join us, so I’ll be able to share that with you.

Don't worry - we'll all be travelling in more comfort than this!

Don’t worry – we’ll all be travelling in more comfort than this!

The packing up of the car starts today and we head off on Thursday morning to drive through Spain, right up the middle past Madrid then over the border at Irun and – all going well – resting for the night in Bordeaux. The next day we continue up through France and cross from Calais to Dover by ferry and then a couple of hours later we’ll be in Bexhill. Just over 2200km – loaded with paella burners and pans for pals, cheeses, wines, sausages and of course Luna and Alfi. We definitely don’t travel light!

We'll miss the view from the patio of one of our favourite local bars. And the dogs love it there too!

We’ll miss the view from the patio of one of our favourite local bars. And the dogs love it there too!

But today I have just a little time to look back on the last month in Spain and share another simple recipe which, for me, is full of one of the flavours of Andalucia- anis.

I’m one of those funny folk who love fennel and dill but can’t stand drinks like anis, pernod or raki. Use it in cooking though and it’s a whole other matter.

Anis is a popular drink here (sweet or dry) and is served with or without ice, or if you add a little slosh of it to coffee in the morning, it becomes a “Carajillo de Anis”. Most popular with all the old boys in the local bars to start their day! We always have a bottle of it at home but it’s one of those bottles that lurks around for ages getting a bit dusty.

After resuming my mountain walks with the pups I have found plenty of wild fennel to pick – here it’s mostly the feathery fronds that are enjoyed, but you can also use the young stems in the same way you would use fennel. This recipe uses whatever veggies you have to hand, it’s all about the delicate aniseed flavours. We enjoyed ours with a whole bream stuffed with wild fennel which we cooked on the cast iron griddle and drizzled with a few drops of anis once it was cooked.

Sea Bream with Cauliflower (4)

Ingredients (to serve 2 as a side dish)

  • Half a cooked cauliflower chopped into small pieces
  • A leek, cleaned and cut into thin slices
  • A mix of red and green pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • Half an onion finely chopped
  • About 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fennel and fronds
  • A tablespoon of anis flavoured liqueur
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a deep frying pan or wok and add the onions and peppers.  Fry gently until they are very soft (this will take about 20 mins) then add the leeks, garlic, fennel and cauliflower. Continue to cook until the leeks have softened, season and add the liqueur. Cook for a further minute and serve.

This would also be delicious served as a vegetarian main course on it’s own or stirred through rice or pasta.


52 Responses to “Fennel Scented Cauliflower with Griddled Sea Bream”

  1. Selma's Table April 15, 2014 at 10:03 #

    I love anis in all it’s manifestations! This looks lovely – that bream is spectacular! Have a wonderful trip…

  2. thecompletebook April 15, 2014 at 11:21 #

    What exciting times ahead with doing renovations for the folks and to have them so close will be all the better. I am looking forward to hearing about the special birthdays too.
    Funny how I love dill but not fennel but I will eat liquorice. Dear me, what a problem child I am.
    Have a beautiful day Tanya.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • Chica Andaluza April 15, 2014 at 14:21 #

      We’ll see so much more of them when we’re in England which is a good thing! Big Man hits 60 and my mum 70 within days of each other, so I think we’ll be having a lot of fun together J And aren’t we all funny peculiar with our tastes – I loathe liquorice so we’ll rule that off the menu when we meet up 😉

  3. Danny & Sue April 15, 2014 at 11:25 #

    Have a safe journey home, and happy birthday when ever it is. XXX S & D

  4. Mad Dog April 15, 2014 at 12:14 #

    How wonderful! The provisions and the fiesta, maybe not so much the long drive… Have a good trip.
    I must try a carajillo de anis – I liked coffee with Spanish brandy so much that I never tried it with anything else 😉

    • Chica Andaluza April 15, 2014 at 14:23 #

      Big Man starts the day with a carajillo de anis – even in Bexhill! I’d prefer the brandy one but probably not first thing L We’re used to the drive now, although we’re hoping we’ll find empty roads and not Easter traffic so keep everything crossed for us!

      • Mad Dog April 15, 2014 at 14:43 #

        I read a great piece in Paul Richardson’s book, A Late Dinner, about driving sheep up ancient tracks, running the length of Spain and crossing Madrid. Apparently they were trying to maintain them and keep them working for the traditional sheep drive on foot. I hope that’s still the case with all the government cuts…

      • Chica Andaluza April 15, 2014 at 15:36 #

        Ooh will have to ask around but htey certainyl use all the old tracks around here for the goats!

  5. Food,Photography & France April 15, 2014 at 12:31 #

    That’s such a good set of tastes…..it has to be done. Many thanks for that and have a good, safe journey.

    • Chica Andaluza April 15, 2014 at 14:24 #

      Thanks Roger, we’ll wave as we get (not very) close to your part of France!

  6. Gather and Graze April 15, 2014 at 12:47 #

    Safe travels back to England Tanya… it must have been lovely to be back in your mountains, even for these few short weeks! Looking forward to your posts to come.
    Such a fantastic dish (particularly with that little hit of aniseed) that I can only imagine how perfect it would have been with that grilled sea bream!

    • Chica Andaluza April 15, 2014 at 14:24 #

      Thank you – we’ve loved being here but we’ll be back. Home is where the heart is…. J

  7. 76sanfermo April 15, 2014 at 13:09 #

    First of all , have a good trip ( congratulations for the pics!) and then happy birthday to hubby and Mum.
    Your recipe sounds so new ! Looking forward to try it….
    (While I’ve always loved fennel , I’ve always disliked anis…….. But I trust you so much , that I’ll try the dish)
    A big hug and Happy Easter!

    • Chica Andaluza April 15, 2014 at 15:32 #

      Thank you for trusting me! And Buona Pascua to you and all your loved ones J

  8. cookinginsens April 15, 2014 at 13:40 #

    Cute dogs and lovely fish!

  9. PendleStitches April 15, 2014 at 15:47 #

    Travel safe.

  10. Amanda April 15, 2014 at 19:31 #

    I love whole grilled fish! What a beautiful dish! Happy travels.

  11. narf77 April 15, 2014 at 20:05 #

    I get the feeling that the dogs would be quite happy travelling a-la-mode on the back of the ute ;). Can’t wait to read about the big birthdays. Big birthdays are a great time to assemble friends and family together and have a giant feast (maybe it’s just the feast that I am interested in? Oh what a crushing blow to realise that I am, indeed, stomach oriented…)

    I love that old olive tree and the colour of your sand. Lots of silica in white sand. Good for grapes :). I am with you on the anis but I also don’t like the flavour in my food. The only way I like it is enrobed (LOVE that word) in chocolate in the form of chocolate aniseed rings and only then with a hot cup of tea. I wish I liked fennel but I don’t so that’s one veggie I won’t be growing on Serendipity Farm. Loved the heartiness of this recipe combined with the delicate nature of the fish. For a fennel lover I bet it tasted amazing 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza April 16, 2014 at 15:12 #

      We grew fennel once but didn’t bank up the trenches enough so they were straggly little things L I love that olive tree too – it looks like it comes from biblical times! Just doing the last packing then ready to head off tomorrow for Easter, birthdays and house renos….am exhausted just thinking about it!

      • narf77 April 16, 2014 at 21:04 #

        Pip Pip old chap, you will sail through it all 🙂 Just lie back and think of England 😉

      • Chica Andaluza April 16, 2014 at 23:08 #


  12. Francesca Maria April 15, 2014 at 20:41 #

    I love both anise and fennel. We use anise in the famous Sicilian Anisette cookies and in sfinci, and fennel in pork sausages. Have a nice trip!

    • Chica Andaluza April 16, 2014 at 15:13 #

      Of course! It features quite heavily in Calabrese dishes too, but that makes sense being so close to Sicilia!

  13. Eha April 16, 2014 at 02:45 #

    Was born to live with dill, had to learn to like fennel [I do!] and do not like the aniseedy drinks either 🙂 ! Just bought a cauli for Easter- now I know what to do with it!! Good weather and pleasant driving, looking forwards to all ahead! Happy Easter!!!!!

  14. Tandy | Lavender and Lime April 16, 2014 at 05:55 #

    I love fennel and will plant some now that I have space. Travel safely!

    • Chica Andaluza April 16, 2014 at 15:21 #

      Good luck with the fennel – we grew it once but didn’t bank up the earth around it enough so they were a bit skinny looking, although they did taste fabulous!

  15. ChgoJohn April 16, 2014 at 07:46 #

    Coffee with anisette was a staple, back in the day. I can almost smell it, after dinner on Sunday nights, when the two families were together. While I was reading how you prepared the vegetables, all I could think of is how good they’d be with pasta. Lo and behold, you saved the best for the very last and came to the same conclusion. 🙂
    I hope your trip is an enjoyable one, Tanya, and safe. Buon viaggio!

    • Chica Andaluza April 16, 2014 at 15:21 #

      Great minds and all that! And of course, the anisette is a good “digestivo” after all the wonderful food the two families had enjoyed J Grazie mille!

  16. bitsandbreadcrumbs April 16, 2014 at 17:38 #

    I hate licorice and always have, so it took me a while to realize that I really do like the flavor of anis…in beer, in fennel and in ouzo. I’ve never seen wild fennel, but I can imagine how lovely it would be in this bream and with such a wonderful side dish. Sounds like lots of fun and busy times ahead for you and your clan in England. Can’t wait to see all of the festivities and property reno. Hope you have a very safe, fun, and uneventful trip tomorrow, Tanya!

    • Chica Andaluza April 16, 2014 at 18:21 #

      Isn’t it funny how we can like a flavour but only in certain things! Thanks for all your good wishes 🙂

  17. Soup Guru April 17, 2014 at 00:21 #

    Well it looks like a lot of work ahead but also a lot of fun! looking forward to your next posts with those family-work-travel adventures!
    Totally understand you, I don’t like anis either, however I love my star anise touch in chinese food… funny…
    Have a great trip and happy Easter! 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza April 19, 2014 at 20:44 #

      Oh yes, star anise – love that too! We’re in England now so after the Easter celebrations work will commence J

  18. TBM April 17, 2014 at 09:31 #

    I never heard of fennel until I moved to London. Then again, I’m not much of a cook, as you know. Sounds like something I should try. And Miles wants to go to the dog bar. Safe travels, happy birthday to all, and good luck with the projects.

    • Chica Andaluza April 19, 2014 at 20:50 #

      Miles (and you of course!) would be most welcome to join us in the dog bar! We love pet friendly places J

  19. restlessjo April 20, 2014 at 07:29 #

    Sounds like an amazing few days for you, Tanya! God bless and happy Easter! 🙂

  20. Lynn April 22, 2014 at 13:14 #

    Sounds good but I’m not keen on aniseed – either in a drink or food!!

    • Chica Andaluza April 22, 2014 at 19:19 #

      Eek – then this one is definitely not for you! Promise never to cook it for you 😉

  21. Karen April 23, 2014 at 14:57 #

    I can’t wait to try this recipe, Tanya…it sounds wonderful. I can just imagine how good it is with fish.

    • Chica Andaluza April 24, 2014 at 09:11 #

      The anis really works with the fish – delicate and just right!

  22. spree May 8, 2014 at 18:09 #

    You know how beautiful this is, don’t you? : ) I hope so! I love everything about this post Tanya!

  23. Promenade Claire May 14, 2014 at 23:35 #

    Anise flavours remind me of the south of France as a kid …… happy days 🙂 So you’re back again – that’s good news!

    • Chica Andaluza May 15, 2014 at 10:41 #

      We’re here – looking forward to seeing you soon J

      • Promenade Claire May 15, 2014 at 10:56 #

        Strangely enough im in Bexhill later this afternoon …

      • Chica Andaluza May 15, 2014 at 12:05 #

        Give me a buzz – I’m running around like a looney as we have visitors from Spain again tonight but would be great to see you for a quick catch up!

  24. Maulana Angga February 20, 2015 at 07:14 #

    hmmm, great pics and great food. Amazing, thanks for sharing chica.

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