June, 2016

May, 2016

April, 2016

  • The six rules of barbecuing

    28 April, 2016 The six rules of barbecuing

    Even the best cooks can be stumped when it comes to cooking to perfection over coals. We ask Ben Tish to tell us the six most important rules of barbecuing so we can grill with confidence over the long weekend.
    Read more…

November, 2015

October, 2015

September, 2015

August, 2015

July, 2015

  • Eat like an Italian

    20 July, 2015 Eat like an Italian

    If you’ve ever been on holiday to Italy, like us, you’ve probably eaten classic pizzas, pastas and risottos until you’re fit to burst. While sticking with what you know isn’t always a bad thing, delve a little deeper and you’ll find the true heart of the region; eating cotoletta in Milan, beans in Florence and artichokes in Campania will open up a whole new world of Italian cooking. We spoke to three Air B’n’B hosts about the food of their region, must-eats while you’re there, and asked about the best-kept secrets when it comes to eating out.
    Read more…

  • Michelin Stars in Your Eyes

    06 July, 2015 Michelin Stars in Your Eyes

    With so many Michelin-starred chefs on the site, we challenged Cooked writer Imogen Corke to test her mettle on some of the trickier recipes. This week, she cooks Atul Kochhar’s cod in nilgiri korma gravy from his latest cookbook, Benares.
    Read more…

May, 2015

  • Q&A with Rosie Birkett

    22 May, 2015 Q&A with Rosie Birkett

    We ask our authors ten questions about their life long love of food. This week, we speak to Rosie Birkett, author of A Lot on her Plate, about roast dinners, tuna tacos, and why you should never run your finger through hot caramel.
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  • The Lunchbox Edit: Spring Greens

    01 May, 2015 The Lunchbox Edit: Spring Greens

    Each week, we take some of our favourite recipes and give them a little tweak to make perfect packed lunches.
    Read more…

Chilli Fiesta

By
The editor
Added
04 August, 2017

Whether you have the urge to grow your own chillies or simply use more in your cooking, we got the lowdown from head gardener of West Dean Gardens, Sarah Wain, who knows a thing or two about these fiery little peppers. Did you know they even have their own festival?

**Scroll down to enter our competition to WIN one of four day passes to the Chilli Fiesta**

How do you grow chillies in the UK? Don’t they need a hot climate?

Chillies grow surprisingly well here. At West Dean, we’re in the south of England, which has the best light levels for chilli growing in the country, then our walled garden has its own micro-climate so is ideal for giving us the early-ripening varieties as well as enough sun and heat for the master blasters, the real hot ones.

What about for home gardeners, are chillies easy to grow?

Absolutely! Chillies mainly need light and protection from the wind and rain, and while we’ve had a fair bit of wet weather, we’ve also had warm, cloudless days, which helps a lot. Remember the stonking June we had? That set things off perfectly well.

Any top tips for beginners?

Have a go. It’s really that simple. Chillies are very easy. You can buy plants from us either at the West Dean Chilli Festival, (see below for details) and we’re open during the year, from June to October too – or you can grow them from seed. For that I’d suggest you buy an electric propagator. Set it to 25C and you’re bound to have success.

Do you have a favourite?

My favourite is the Sparkler. It’s literally covered in really long thin – a centimetre long – chillies. It’s vigorous and looks terrific.  However, the Hungarian hot wax is the easiest one to cook with. You can stuff, grill and pickle it. Plus, it’s easy to grow, and it looks glorious in a pot.

Can I dry the chillies I grow?

Yes, that’s a perfect way of storing them. The pencil cayenne is particularly good, but look for ones that are thin-walled and not too fleshy as they dry quicker. Hang them up in a dry, warm spot and you’ll soon have a bunch of dried chillies to use in the kitchen. You can even grind them for your own chilli flakes.

How can you tell if a pepper is going to be intensely hot?

The easiest way to discover if a chilli for heat is to chop the end off and test it on the end of your tongue. You’ll get a sense of how hot the whole chilli is. If you’re relatively sensitive to heat, then start with the mild ones and build up to a hotter variety. Again, the Hungarian hot wax gets my vote. It’s a form of Jalapeno pepper and is known as the pizza pepper in America, so is a spicy mouthful, but won’t make you cry.

Is it true that Padron peppers are usually very mild but can occasionally be hot?

Eating Padron peppers is very much like playing culinary Russian roulette. They are usually one of the mildest peppers you can eat and are delicious pan-fried. It’s possible to be surprised by a rogue hot one, so be prepared and have a milky drink to hand. It’s a myth that cold water or beer is best with hot food, a glass of milk is far more soothing.

What’s your favourite part of the festival?

I love meeting everyone and talking about chillies, but I also love seeing the gardens full of people enjoying the music. We were shocked how many people came to the first festival 22 years ago, and it still amazes me how much it’s grown over the years.

 

Visiting West Dean Chilli Festival

West Dean chilli festival runs from 11-13 August and as well as offering a chance to see the full range of chillies Sarah and her team grow, you’ll be able to ask questions, buy plants and see Cooked authors Rosie Birkett and Mark Diacono demonstrate their skills. Plus, as with all good festivals, there’s live music, plenty of food stalls, entertainment and camping. To find out more visit chillifiesta.co.uk

We’re offering 4 winners a pair of day passes (worth £50 each) to the Chilli Fiesta, for any day over the weekend (12th or 13th August). The UK's biggest chilli festival returns to West Dean Gardens. Join the party and dance to live Latin music, watch cookery and gardening demonstrations and taste delicious chilli foods 'til your tongue sizzles.

Win 1 of 4 pairs of tickets to Chilli Fiesta


Terms and conditions apply

HOW TO: COOK WITH CHILLIES

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