Millie’s Chilli

My  nine-year old daughter Millie has suddenly developed a passion for cooking. I would like to think that I was the inspiration behind it, but I think it is more than likely sprung from watching the television, particularly Junior Bake-Off and Junior Masterchef on CBBC.

Whatever the source of her inspiration, I support her new passion, even if it does mean, which so far it hasn’t that I have to eat some disastrous meals.

I also have promised to share some of her recipes, starting with her child-friendly version of chilli con carne which is something that any kid can make with a bit of guidance from an adult. It is based on my chilli con carne recipe, but she has taken out most of the heat to make more child friendly.

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Chilli with lime and other things fine…

The sun has finally broken through and it is starting to look like we might get a summer here in the UK, so I guess my barbecue might get a decent work-out this year… And if there is one thing that any great barbecue chef needs, it is a good choice of marinades to give their meat that extra zing.

So yesterday I popped into the kitchen here at Chez Winegarden, tied up the apron, and searched through my collection of magazine cuttings for some marinade recipes to experiment with. Within minutes I stumbled across this fabulous Sweet Chilli marinade recipe which I think I had cut from an old Sainsburys or Tesco food magazine. It is so easy to make and so delicious that I thought I would come and share it with you all.

Sweet Chilli Marinade

I love this recipe, it is easy to make, tastes delicious and can be used with so many things. I used it on some pork loin steaks, but it could easily be used on some chicken, or perhaps even with a stir fry.

Sweet Chilli Marinade. So easy to make, so hard to photograph
  • Preparation time: less than 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: none
  • Skill level: easy


  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped.
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 4 tsp runny honey
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp lime juice


After preparing your ingredients, toss them into a bowl and mix them up. After the ingredients are well mixed your marinade is ready to enjoy!

Rigatoni with bacon and chilli… pasta perfection in minutes

Rigatoni with bacon, tomato and chilli

I love pasta!

I love the fact pasta comes in a variety of shapes. I love the taste and texture of pasta. I love the simplicity of pasta. I love that most kids love pasta. I love that pasta is quick and easy to make. I love that pasta is so adaptable.

I love everything about pasta… it is the most perfect fast food in the world!

So the next time you are looking for a fast meal to fix for the kids or yourself, you could do a lot worse than a nice bowl of pasta. And I bet you could cook a delicious, nutritious bowl of pasta faster than you could have a pizza delivered.

Rigatoni with bacon, tomato and chilli

  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes
  • Skill level: beginner


  • 200g rigatoni (but any shape will do)
  • 3 slices of back bacon, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 anchovy, chopped (optional)
  • 1 heaped tsp capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 pinches of sugar
  • pepper and salt


  1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water.*
  2. Fry the bacon until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl and set aside. Add the onion to the bacon pan and fry over a moderate heat for 4-5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add the chilli and garlic and stir for a minute before pouring in the tomatoes and adding the anchovy, capers, balsamic, sugar and a good grinding of pepper and some salt. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until reduced by about a third. Taste for seasoning, then drain the pasta and stir into the sauce.

* TIP: always add salt to the water when cooking pasta. I’m not sure of the science, but without salt in the water your pasta will become a tasteless pile of mush.