Christmas Side Dish – Chilli & Fennel Cauliflower Cheese

This Christmas, be inspired by Ben Chester-Sterne, our Breakfast Chef and resident beekeeper, who shares his festive side dish recipe - Chilli & Fennel Cauliflower Cheese.


  • 1 Large cauliflower
  • 1½ tbsp Fennel seeds
  • 2tbsp Smoked paprika
  • 1tbsp Chilli flakes
  • 600ml Double cream
  • 1tbsp English mustard
  • 250g Mature cheddar
  • 100g Double Gloucester
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)




  1. Pre-heat your oven to mark 5 / 170 fan/ 375 Fahrenheit.


  1. Break apart the cauliflower into large florets and place onto a baking tray. Add a glug of vegetable oil and season, place into your pre-heated oven and cook for 12-15 minutes until slightly roasted and coloured.


  1. In a blender, add your fennel seeds and smoked paprika and blitz until you have a fine powder (this can also be achieved in a pestle and mortar).


  1. In a saucepan, add your cream, mustard and chilli flakes then slowly bring to the boil over a medium-high heat.



  1. Whilst the cream mixture is coming up to temperature, grate your cheese and add to the cream once boiled. Season with salt & pepper and stir until all is combined.


  1. Add your cauliflower to an ovenproof dish and pour over the sauce. Top with an extra helping of grated cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cauliflower is soft and the top is coloured.

Like the look of our delicious Christmas side dish, but don’t want the stress of cooking up a feast yourself? Why not join us for Christmas at Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa this year? Indulge in Christmas day dinner at the hotel, plus an overnight stay with one of our Christmas hotel packages. There is nothing more magical than Christmas in the New Forest.


Discover our Christmas Packages