I love a vegan recipe book. In fact, I may have to admit that I have a bit of an addiction to buying them. They are slowly taking over an ever-growing percentage of shelving space in our house. So, what better to feed said addiction than to start a new series on Vegan Eats Oxford, reviewing cookbooks and sharing my thoughts? I’d love to hear from you guys about what you’d find helpful from a cookbook review, so please leave a comment or message me on @VeganEatsOxford on Instagram.
BISH BASH BOSH! is the most recently published recipe book by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, known on social media as enthusiastic cooking duo BOSH! It’s filled with a mixture of quicker mid-week meals, which you’d need to set aside your weekend to produce, as well as a handful of sweet treats. Every recipe has a picture, which is a relative must for me when it comes to a recipe book, as I really like to be able to see what my end result should look like (even if it rarely turns out that way).
I decided to pick a handful of recipes to try out and share my verdict with you. Admittedly some of this review could be more of a reflection of my cooking than the recipe, but I promise you I followed them very diligently! One of the features I liked about this book was that they offer up some suggested meal plans and combinations of recipes which would go well together, as well as providing this ‘healthy meal prep’ collection of recipes, which sounded right up my street, so I thought I’d give that a go first:
This was certainly the easiest thing to prep in advance, although it would require a bit more freezer space than I have to prepare in batches. The smoothie is full of amazing micro-nutrients and certainly felt like a healthy start to the day (the scoop of vegan protein powder is a must though if, like me, you train regular and try to keep your intake of that particular macro up). Unfortunately mine did require chewing, so I guess it requires a higher powered blender than I own to get a perfectly smooth texture. Your regular cheap blender possibly isn’t going to cut it. It wasn’t that bad though, perfectly drinkable, and it kept me full until lunch, probably partly because it took me 2 hours to get through it. The portion size is huge, and the boys rightly recommend you save some of it later in the day for a snack. A note on taste, considering its colour, it tasted better than I was expecting. It wasn’t too sweet but the greens in it weren’t super noticeable. I’m definitely not one for a green vegetable tasting smoothie, and happily this didn’t fall into that category.
Would I make it again? No.
This looked so appealing in the photography, and I have been looking for high protein lunches for days I go to the gym, so this was right up my street. Incredibly simple with not too much ‘prep’ actually needed. I cheated and used a shop bought chilli sauce, though there is a recipe for a homemade one in the book which looks good (honestly though, who has the time…). I did however make the turmeric houmous from scratch and my goodness was it worth it. It’s incredibly vibrant and full of flavour, and one tin of chickpeas makes so much houmous, I think personally more than the two portions it suggests. It really doesn’t take long to throw the ingredients in a food processor while your tofu is marinating and get it deliciously creamy.
Sadly I don’t have a griddle pan to get those beautiful char lines on the tofu and veg, but a frying pan did the job, and I ended up with some of the most flavourful tofu I’ve eaten. Topping your tupperware pot of pre-cooked rice and kidney beans with these and taking it into work the next day with a huge dollop of houmous – honestly it made me feel like I have my sh*t together 😂, even though it took a matter of minutes to do!
Would I make it again? Definitely!
When we sat down to eat it, we acknowledged that this was very similar to the kind of meal we throw together when we’re trying to avoid going food shopping for one more day. The ingredients are super simple and stuff we’ve always got in the fridge as they can make the base of countless dinners. It was very quick to make, and familiar enough that I personally didn’t see the need for a recipe – though some people who perhaps aren’t confident in the kitchen would appreciate having something simple to follow that they could quickly get on the dinner table. I cooked this fresh as a meal for two rather than as meal prep (though it would be easy enough to multiply the quantities and make food to last for a few days) and even cooked the pasta in the sauce to save on washing up, though frankly after all the rest of the cooking I didn’t have many pots and pans left!
Along with finely chopped carrot, pepper, onion & garlic (which the recipe suggests to use a food processor to dice but I find it less faff to just use an old fashioned knife and chopping board) gets added a tin of tomatoes, and then it’s all about the seasoning. Let me just say that this recipe calls for a low sugar chilli sauce, and in this instance, I probably would not recommend Flying Goose Hot Sauce. In the quantities requested, this pasta bowl would’ve been way too spicy! I was expecting a tomato pasta with a little heat, and despite using less chilli than the recipe called for, we ended up tucking into probably the spiciest thing I’ve ever cooked. As is the case with all recipes I suppose, start off with a little as you can always add more, and season to taste!
Would I make it again? In a sense, yes, because it’s similar to quick weeknight meals I already cook, but I won’t actually need to follow the recipe.
Along with suggested menus, there are plenty of standalone recipes for you to throw together on a weeknight, or take a bit more time over when you’ve got it. I spent a leisurely Sunday afternoon doing a bit of cooking and baking from elsewhere in the recipe book:
This was probably my favourite thing I made out of the book, the sauce was spot on. Mild, creamy and sweet from the ground almonds, the recipe made a massive tray’s worth which I was happily eating leftovers for lunch the next couple of days (and my colleagues commented how good it smelled). The bulk of this dish is chunky chopped carrots, green beans and cauliflower, the latter of which soaked up all of that gorgeous flavour from the sauce. You could easily swap out the veg for whatever you have in the fridge though and adjust the baking time accordingly. For us, the carrots were too al-dente, and I would roast them for longer next time. It would be tasty served with rice but we had large enough bowls full that it was a hearty and filling meal on its own.
Would I make it again? Yes
The majority of the sweet recipes in the book seemed to me like they’d need an occasion due to their size, decadence, hefty ingredients list, or time requirement (or a combination of all of these)! Among these though was this very un-fussy recipe for shortbread sandwich biscuits, which felt much more realistic to me for a regular weekend bake. Instructions were very straightforward, the dough came together beautifully, and I have to say this is probably the best vegan shortbread I’ve made. The recipe supposedly makes 10 sandwiches, which obviously depends on how wide your cutter is, as I managed to make quite a few more than that. Despite this, I still had plenty of icing to cover the tops – enough for Jamie to have a couple of spoonfuls of leftovers straight from the bowl. I’d recommend this for novice bakers, or even as something fun to make with children on a Sunday afternoon.
Would I make it again? Yes!
So, is this book worth buying? I think yes! In fact, I recommended it to a friend who is already cooking up a storm from it. It has a mixture of quick and easy recipes, as well as some showstoppers, and along with your standard curry and chilli has some more original and innovative ideas too. On pre-order and release it was half price and at £10 I think it’s a worthwhile purchase to liven up your mid-week meal repertoire.