un-EAT-en Sustainable Recipe Book from the Best of Belfast

Love Food, Hate Waste?

You know my love of food, let’s face it, I didn’t develop this figure by eating nothing but salad! So, when my manager asked me to work with some of Belfast’s best chefs to develop a recipe book, obviously I jumped at the chance. I have a sneak preview here, because the book hasn’t been launched yet – it’s ready to go live on Thursday 27th September as part of our Recycle Week celebrations.

Un-EAT-en Recipe book

On the off chance that you are in Belfast and would like to join us at the launch event – email wasteeducation@belfastcity.gov.uk. The Event is free, but numbers are limited, you will of course be treated to some very interesting and delicious canapés, and a lively discussion too. You can find out more about the event here

Back to my recipe book

There was always going to be a twist, what would make this stand out from all the other thousands of recipe books out there? Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I am a Recycling Officer by day, and with the current push to reduce food waste going to landfill, this recipe book is aimed at doing just that.

I hated the idea of calling it anything to do with food waste, it sounds so grim, and the project was so much more up beat and glitzy than that, hence un-EAT-en, with the emphasis on the EAT hint. hint!

Although delicious and ranging from simple to complicated, all of the recipes are designed to help you use up the annoying leftovers that would otherwise be destined for a long, slow death at the back of your fridge, or make the most of what is available in the reduced aisles at your local supermarket.

The thing is, all of us are responsible for creating food waste at some point in our lives. Sometimes we buy more than we need or we might forget what we have bought and it ends up going off. Historically we had a fabulous tradition of using up leftovers; this is how our Northern Irish specialities of potato bread and Boxty came about; but as society became wealthier, the practice of using up leftovers went out of fashion. However, as any good successful Chef will tell you, those waste ingredients are A) costing you money, B) often delicious as the hard to access parts are often the tastiest, and C) where you can really turn a profit. Time to get the thinking cap on then!

When I started this project, I might have been happy with a ‘chefie’ glitzed up recipe for Boxty, but my goodness the Chefs that have taken part have delivered so much more! I wonder if I can tempt you with a pesto made from vegetable tops, herb stalks, and hazelnuts from Johnny at the renowned Merchant Hotel. Maybe you fancy trying the perfect roast chicken, with follow up recipes for using up all of what’s left; that came courtesy of David Gillmore at James St South. There is a magnificent pan fried fish and butter bean stew from Ben Arnold at Home and to finish off how about turning stale bread into a delicious steamed marmalade pudding from Paul Waterworth at Coco. As it turns out bread is by far the most wasted food resource in the UK – no excuses any more!

Roast Chicken
The perfect roast chicken from David Gillmore at James Street South

All joking aside, in 2015, UK households binned £13 Billion pounds worth of food, 4.4 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten and this only accounts for the food that we bring home; the waste mountain increases at every step of the food processing chain. The consequences of this are grim, both for the environment and our economy; we need to change. (Statistics from WRAP, Waste & Resources Action Programme)

#YourBelfast

Here in Belfast, we have quietly been going through a food revolution. Over the past ten years, something magical has happened to the food scene here and Belfast has become one of the most amazing cities in the UK to go out for a meal which is why it made sense to call on the local expertise.

Specialising in locally sourced, high quality ingredients, our Chefs are putting Belfast on the map as a global food destination for epicure tourists. Even the very hard to please food critic Jay Rayner has been pleasantly surprised by what Belfast has to offer. Here’s what he has to say about one of our participating restaurants – James St South.

He’s since been back to visit a few more restaurants – and the word on the street that he has a few more lined up, exciting times!

I am old enough to remember when a good meal in Belfast was measured by the quantity of food on the plate rather than the quality and finding a decent coffee was a bit like the Holy Grail (if more difficult to find). Seriously, ‘good’ coffee was based on the choice of instant coffee… bog standard Mellow Birds or upmarket Kenco, and whether they made it up with boiled milk or water.

Thankfully this is but a distant memory, Belfast is sustaining more than it’s fair share of stunning restaurants and it would be well worth planning a visit during the ‘BelFeast’ food festival in March to sample a few.

All in all this was an unusual project, but enjoyable, particularly if you do want to cut down on your food waste. Hopefully what we have done here celebrates both the superb skill and talent that Belfast has to offer, whilst also making the most of the food we buy.

Look out for a free copy after Thursday at the participating restaurants and Belfast City Council. In the meantime I’m hoping the book goes down as well as the food!

to download a copy

unEATen

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24 comments

  1. Well done Plot, always conscious of waste, especially with food.
    I found moving to an organic veg box delivery took us away from shopping for virtually anything you fancied in the supermarket, whether in UK season or not (and possibly too much of it, because that’s what supermarkets make you do) to cooking and making the most of whatever the ingredients you got in the box. That forced us to be more creative with our food use instead of lazily just getting what we knew and relied on them having.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers! The amount of waste that the big supermarkets are responsible for is criminal, it’s on a scale that is really difficult to get your head around, and their reasoning for it just doesn’t make any sense. It’s another part of modern life that makes me suspect that reasoning with some people (Politicians and big organisations) is an exercise in futility, which in turn get me all existential. Am I already dead and in one of Dante’s levels of hell?

      On which note – obviously I have had enough of today and it time to go home and have a beer. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I approve of this sooooo much, both the idea behind the book, and the yummy sounding recipes!

    p.s. this year we started saving peelings/ ends from vegetables by dumping them into a bag in the freezer, then every so often I make stock with them. The stock from these waste bit of veggies is sooo good!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very cool! Shared on FB. For my day job, I have to interview univ. students, and one took part in a contest where the team had to make delicious food out of waste–like pulp from juicing and coffee grounds. They made little snack bars that were, supposedly, delicious. Anyway, really interesting stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well done. That looks like a useful recipe book.

    I’m afraid I’m guilty of food waste. Cooking for one invites it, really. Supermarkets seem to be moving more and more to pre-packaged vegetables and they’re not packaged for one person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not going to pretend that I don’t shop in supermarkets, but I try to get what I can from local shops which at least let you buy things loose. I have actually found the best greengrocers ever in the city centre though – and the quality of their fruit & veg is waaaay better than supermarkets, at a great price – so win win for me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • So sad when that happens, my Granda was a grocer, so I suppose that’s one reason for my interest, but they are getting harder & harder to find. Maybe it’s just changing though to online orders – box delivery of veggies seems to be popular, though I haven’t tried it myself.

        Like

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