Chopping Club

Lunches, cooked and eaten together in the library, have always been an important part of our programme.  Growing from one of our first projects by artists Fairland Collective, these lunches are communally prepared and cooked in one pot, always in the library itself. Everyone chops, so everyone has made lunch for everyone else. One pot has been known to produce three courses, or a feast for 80 people, though we often just make soup.

We are building up a larder of pickles, preserves and cordials for future meals, and a collection of recipes shared by local cooks and artists, which are available to be photocopied from Bootle Library or downloaded below. We serve food in bowls made by library users with Fairland Collective, and always make use of other tableware that has been made in the library: tablecloths, menus, or a table runner embroidered by our Stitch Club.

Food connects us to a each other, and to a network of local growers and producers in Sefton. We try and use local produce where possible, and take occasional foraging trips along the canal. Community gardens share surplus produce for lunch menus, and beehives at Formby and Bootle Libraries provide local honey.

Chopping Club is led by artists Niamh Riordan and Gregory Herbert, and a throng of Human Library volunteers. We often welcome guest artists to cook with us, share recipes or menus, or simply introduce their work to us around the table.

Recipe Collection

An ongoing collection of some of the recipes that we have cooked together over the years.

Past Events

Apr 2020

Simple, adaptable store cupboard recipes, including Greg’s favourite one pan eggs

May 2020

Cooking with dandelions, writing about dandelions, hosted by Niamh Riordan and Gregory Herbert, with contributions from guest artist Rachel Pimm.

Watch the slideshow.

Download the PDF

Flower Fritters Recipe

Handful dandelion flowers per person, trimmed
1 egg
250ml/ 1 cup any milk
125g/1 cup any flour
1tsp baking powder
Plenty of oil for frying
(you can re-use this)

Add in suggestions: If sweet: 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon. If savoury : salt, pepper,  spices or herbs of choice

To serve: If sweet: granulated sugar to roll hot fritters in. If savoury: a dipping sauce – eg soy sauce+ sesame oil + pinch sugar…Or mayo!

Pre-heat around 5cm oil in a saucepan or wok. If oil starts smoking turn it down, it’s too hot. You can check that the temperature is right by test- frying a small blob of batter – you want it to sink down about halfway in the oil and then immediately float up to the top. If it sinks to the bottom your oil is too cold. If it rises to the surface straight away – too hot. 

In a bowl, whisk all ingredients except flowers together, including any add ins (see ingredients list)

Dip the flowers in the batter 4-5 at a time

Fry in batches. Fry flower side down, then flip over – it should only take a minute on each side for them to puff up, crispy and golden.

Drain on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel and, if they are sweet, whilst hot, dip in your coating of choice.

Jun 2020

Alison Clare, one half of FoodSketz joins us to share some of her caravan based experiments with countering household waste

Keep a freezer bag of veg scraps to make stock

– Hold onto veg waste – onion skins, carrot tops etc, and put in a bag in a freezer.

– When you have a bit of time, make a veg stock!

Things to consider/avoid

  • Potatoes – these will make the stock really starchy. If you do want to use up some potatoes, roast them first before adding to stock pot.
  • Red veg (ie Beetroot) will turn your stock red. Fine to use if you don’t mind!
  • Strongly flavoured things eg. fennel will obviously change the character of the stock.

– Grab a few handfuls of veg and either fry them in large stock pot until just starting to colour, or roast with a little oil and a good pinch of salt at 180 for around 20 mins.

– In a large pot, add boiling water to your veg and simmer for an hour, lid on. Strain, and you’ll have a delicious stock. Check for seasoning (but if you’re reducing the stock do this at the end as once reduced the saltiness will intensify).

– At this point you can also keep simmering the stock until the liquid is really reduced and concentrated. Leave to cool, then freeze in ice cube trays, to use whenever you need it.

Household Waste – Zine Download

Jul 2020

Download printable recipe

Makes 4 breads

250 g strong bread flour

200 g warm water – NOT hot, just pleasantly lukewarm 

1 level tsp salt (or less to taste, as this makes them fairly salty)

5g fast action yeast – roughly half a packet if you have the sachets or 1 level tsp. 

Mix flour water and yeast and salt in a bowl until shaggy dough forms – it is a really wet dough.  

The moisture in the dough makes a delicious, chewy bread. But it’s very sticky – so when handling it, coat your hands, surface/bowls in oil. It’s also too wet to knead in the normal way so you have 2 options: 

Food processor: The original recipe for this dough uses a food processor to knead it. If you have one – great! Using the dough blade, whizz for about 30 seconds, scrape down the sides and whizz for another 30 secs. Tip into an oiled bowl and leave to prove for 20 mins. Easy! 

By hand: Using a wooden spoon mix vigorously for a couple of minutes. Tip/scrape into a clean oiled bowl. With oiled hands, stretch each side of the dough out and slap it into the middle – this helps build up the gluten. Flip over the ball of dough and leave to rest, covered with a tea towel, for 10 mins. Stretch the dough once more, and leave for a further 10 mins. You can do this once more, or if you’re hungry, get straight to cooking. 

Heat a heavy bottomed pan on the stove – you want it really hot. Turn on your grill to high

Divide dough into four pieces and shape each into a ball. 

On on oiled surface, using oiled hands, flatten a piece of dough, using the palm of your hand. With your fingers tips, poke at the dough, stretching and prodding it into a around a 15-20cm circle.

Transfer to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes until it gets lightly browned on the bottom

Stick the pan under the grill until the bread puffs and browns on top

Repeat with remaining balls of dough. Dough keeps really well in the fridge overnight. 

Aug 2020

There are hundreds of microspecies of bramble in the UK, all of them differing slightly in flavour. Where are Bootle’s best brambles, and do they have their own unique taste?

Download Recipes Here

Sep 2020

Image: I need the onions before it rains, Navi Kaur, 2019

For September’s Chopping Club you are invited to join us for an online talk and discussion with Birmingham based artist and educator Navi Kaur. 

Navi will join us to introduce her work and talk about the work she is making with Human Libraries, followed by the opportunity to ask questions in an informal, friendly and supportive group. This event will take place on Zoom ( a link will be emailed to attendees). It is free but booking is essential.

Everyone who comes along will also receive a free, limited edition recipe card made by Navi in collaboration with Liverpool based artist Sumuyya Khader. These can be picked up from Bootle or Crosby Libraries,  or posted to you if you are further away. 

Inspired by the lives of her paternal grandparents, Surinder (‘Budimom’) and Karamjit (‘Baba Ji’), Navi’s work intimately and playfully documents themes of domestic, cultural, and spiritual significance. She traces conversations and daily activities through digital photography, film, and installation, demonstrating the abounding resilience of first-generation immigrants, the wonders of the everyday, and the compelling expressions of the Sikh Dharam.  Navi’s artistic process doubles as a method of self-enquiry, a way to investigate the physical and intangible dimensions of her cultural heritage.

To book a spot,  please email or text/whatsapp 07751240427.  Please include your postal address if you would like the recipe card edition posted to you. If you need any assistance with setting up zoom, do let us know and we will support you to get it up and running.

Oct 2020

For October’s Chopping Club, artists Niamh Riordan and Greg Herbert hosted a pickling party over Zoom. Guests were invited to chop along with us to produce a jar or two of pickles for their fridge, or simply come along to watch and have a chat. We provided the pickle recipes in advance, and a jar of ingredients was available for Bootle and Crosby residents to pick up from their local library to make during the event.

You can find the recipes that we made together here, as well some other favourite pickle recipes suggested by party guests