Do people still have house warming parties? I remember going to so many house warmings and open houses as a kid. There would be elaborate buffets of food and a pastor would come and bless the house. I was taught to formally greet adults when we’d go out. I would greet any and every adult I saw at these open houses. It was funny to hear them tell me how much I had grown, especially because I’m sure they didn’t have a clue who I was. Like seriously, I don’t know you! HAHA. Last summer, my friend and I went for a hike in Patapsco Park and we ran into a woman who looked like my other friend’s mom. We went over to say hello and she was like ‘oh you’re here, it’s great to see you, have a good hike.’ As soon as we walked away from her, my friend and I turned to each other ‘Uh, that wasn’t her mom! HAHA. Who was that?’ Anyway, as an adult, I feel like I’ve only been to one or two house warming parties. Maybe it’s not as big a deal anymore. When we moved into our current house, we didn’t have a formal house warming. Our first guest was my mom. We prepared a lovely meal and had her over for lunch. This is a photo from that day.

first branzino dinner

Grilled branzino with fennel and lemon, oven roasted onions, arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette, and spaghetti with mixed herbs.

I like to have my mom over at least once a week for a home cooked meal. Last week she mentioned how she’s never forgotten the first meal she enjoyed in our house. So I went out to Whole Foods and picked up 3 branzini, some fennel, lemons and potatoes and surprised her with this meal.


Fennel stalks and leaves
Lemon, sliced
Olive oil
White wine

Fennel bulbs, cut into wedges
Heavy Cream
Whole Milk
Chicken stock
Nutmeg, grated
Parmiggiano Reggiano, grated



I asked the man at the fish counter to descale and clean the fish. It took a couple minutes so I went around the market to pick up the other ingredients.

branzino in cage

The seabass doesn’t actually have that orange glow. I was wearing an Orioles top and it reflected off the branzino skin. Go O’s! HAHA. 😉 I rubbed olive oil, sea salt and pepper on the skin and stuffed the fish with the thinner fennel stalks, leaves and a few slices of lemon. I had 3 whole fish and only 2 fish cages for the grill. So I grilled two and steamed one in foil with a splash of white wine.

potatoes and grilled branzino

I steamed baby gold potatoes and peeled them while they were piping hot. I placed the potatoes in a bowl with a TBSP of Kerrygold butter, a pinch of sea salt, a few roughly chopped pieces of parsley and covered the bowl with cling film. I tossed the potatoes in the bowl a few times until the butter melted. We love potatoes prepared this way!

finocchio gratinato

Finocchi gratinati. Cut off the stalks and outer layer of the fennel bulb. I used the stalks to stuff the fish and the bulb to make fennel gratin. Cut the bulb in to equal wedges. I cut about 6-8 wedges for each bulb. In a pot, pour in 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of whole milk, and 1/4 cup chicken stock. You can use 1 cup of half-and-half if you have that instead. Add in a pinch of salt, pepper, grate in some nutmeg and mix. Add in your fennel and some butter. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium. Cook your fennel on the stove for 10 minutes, then transfer it into a gratin dish or baking tray. You won’t need to use all the cooking liquid. I usually place the fennel in the gratin dish and then cover them halfway with the cooking liquid. Top with generous amounts of grated parmiggiano to create a nice golden crust. Cook in oven at 400F for 25-30 minutes.

steamed branzino

This is the branzino I steamed in foil. I made a bed of fennel stalks under the branzino so it wouldn’t burn or stick to the foil. I seasoned and stuffed the branzino the same way I did the ones for the grill. I then topped the branzino with more feathery green leaves before folding the ends of the foil into a little pouch. Just before sealing the pouch, I poured in about a cup of white wine. I placed the foil pouch on the grill for 10-15 minutes. Doesn’t it look beautiful?!

my branzino plate

Here is my plate. 🙂 Kevin prefered the grilled branzino. I prefered it steamed. The steamed branzino was so soft! Squeeze over some grilled lemon juice over the fish! Delicious!

fish bones

All gone! 🙂 Try this fantastic dish on your grill before the summer’s over! What am I saying, we use our grill year-round. Try both methods and let me know which one you prefered in the comment section below.

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