Fennel Scented Cauliflower with Griddled Sea Bream

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 thoughts on “Fennel Scented Cauliflower with Griddled Sea Bream

  1. 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

    1. 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 😉

  2. 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 😉

    1. 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!

      1. 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…

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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 🙂

    1. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!!!!!

    1. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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! 🙂

  11. 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.

      1. 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!

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