“Guacamole” from “Bosh”

There’s been considerable pushback (read: open revolt) at this house for a month of vegan recipes, so I figured one workaround in continuing to test the book without testing my family’s patience would be to make food that I know they already like.

Enter guacamole.

However, what I didn’t count on was making Bosh! guacamole. Stupidly, I figured all guacamole recipes are more or less the same, with some minor tweaks here or there. I rarely use a recipe anymore, given that guacamole is so simple I have it memorised.

For the record, my don’t-bother-to-look-it-up guacamole recipe is: Mash up two avocados, Chop up 1/2 a red onion very finely; Deseed and chop up a tomato; Add maldon sea salt; For heat, either add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce or half a chilli (depending on what’s to hand); Throw in some chopped coriander (if there’s some lurking in the frig); Mix all together; Add enough lime juice so it’s the consistency you want. Eat immediately. Remember to share.

The Bosh Bros. recipe is not a million miles away from this one until you get to the part that says: add one tablespoon of olive oil. Yes, you read that right: OLIVE OIL IN GUACAMOLE.

Why, Bosh Bros, WHY? HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY RUIN GUACAMOLE? A LEGIT VEGAN RECIPE THAT DOESN’T NEED TWEAKING??? (Apologies for the shouting, but I am irate.)

Needless to say, the guacamole was disgusting. It turns out there’s a reason that no guacamole recipe I ever read added olive oil: because it doesn’t work. Look at the picture above. Have you studied it? Does that look like any guacamole you’ve ever had? Or any guacamole you’d want to eat? No and No.

This recipe did little to convince my family that veganism was something worth doing. I did try to point out to them that guacamole is vegan already, to which they retorted that maybe there’s something wrong with this cookbook. They may have a point.

Back to the Bosh drawing board.

“Guacamole” from “Bosh”

Bosh! Simple Recipes. Amazing Food. All Plants. by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby

Maureen: You were right about this cookbook. It’s very orange.

Kirstin: It’s very fluoresecent, which means we’re getting old, because we remember fluoresence the first time around, back when it was fashionable.

Maureen: So a month of vegetarian meals, then. I think I’m going to neglect to tell my family.

Kirstin: But it’s a good thing to do a vegan book. We wanted to do a vegan book because we should all be eating less meat and this is one way to do that.

Maureen: Even though it’s a vegan book, I can already tell you that I’ll be using butter. I couldn’t live without it, and it’s unlikely I’ll be using coconut oil again, but we’ll see.

Kirstin: We’ve done vegan books before.

Maureen: Yes, it’s been mixed results at best with the previous vegan books. But we’re willing to have another go. The recipes do look good though. There’s a lot of things I’d like to try. But I know I’m not going to be a vegan by the end of this month.

Kirstin: No, me neither.



Bosh! Simple Recipes. Amazing Food. All Plants. by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby

“Too Hot Salad” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

IMG_7302Looking at this picture reminds me again why I loved this salad: Isn’t just a gorgeous collection of colourful virtuousness?

It also was delicious.

A London summer is a mixed blessing of weather at best, and this summer is no different. But over the past weekend, we had a very hot day on Sunday, which begged for the “Too Hot Salad” to be made. Anna Jones said she makes it when it’s too hot to cook, and this was one of those days. (Indeed it was too hot to cook in the kitchen, but perfect weather for a barbeque in the garden, which is what we did.)

The Vietnamese influence is easy to taste: cold, fresh vegetables (especially carrots) coupled with a sweet soy sauce dressing. The leaves of coriander gave it a very nice kick. I was dubious about the inclusion of watermelon, but it worked. It’s also an excellent vegan recipe, which is always a good thing.

To be sure, making those beautiful vegetable ribbons takes some time. I wish I could be as quick as the estimate to make this (it took about double the time), but I do think it looks lovely, so perhaps the extra time was worth it. I’m also getting better at making vegetable ribbons, so perhaps that will come up in a job interview sometime and I can impress them with my unusual talent.

Would I make this again? I would indeed. And I might even do it on a day that’s not hot.


“Too Hot Salad” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

“Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

IMG_6829As soon as I saw this recipe listed in “Genius Recipes,” I knew I wanted to try it. I am a sucker for cauliflower.

Usually when I make cauliflower, I toss it in olive oil, add some salt and pepper and then roast it for about 20 minutes (covered in foil so the small florets won’t burn.) It’s a winner every time, especially for Sunday roasts.

For this recipe, you don’t separate out the florets, which can be a boring and laborious job. Instead, you roast the cauliflower whole after you’ve poached it. While it’s poaching and roasting, you make the whipped goat cheese. Your vegan friends can opt out of using the whipped goat cheese, which gives more for everyone else to enjoy. (It’s also great on toasted multi-seed bread the next day.)

I am not sure the picture does it justice. It looks simply magnificent when you take it out of the oven.

This is the sort of dish that would be perfect for a dinner party, as who wouldn’t be impressed with such a glorious sight as a whole head of cauliflower, tinged brown from roasting. I’d recommend cutting it into wedges at the dinner table; a modern take on the classic Norman Rockwell image of carving a turkey at the table.

One caveat: you should watch the amount of chilli flakes you use. The recipe calls for one tablespoon– or to taste. If you’re making this for less robust palates, I’d recommend using a lot less than one tablespoon. Both of the boys found this far too spicy with the one tablespoon of chilli flakes I used.

Would I make this again? Absolutely.

Want to give this a try? I’d recommend it. Click through this paragraph to find the recipe on Food52.

“Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese” from “Food52 Genius Recipes”

“Veggie Lasagna” from “Deliciously Ella”

IMG_6524Given that I faced universal resistance from my family for a month of eating Ella’s way (no sugar, gluten or dairy, which frankly are all the fun food groups), I decided to make a single serving of the Veggie Lasagna.

This was a good decision. I didn’t help the cause by making a vegetable lasagna that full of cheese (ricotta and mozzarella) goodness and other roasted vegetables for the rest of the family, so they really weren’t tempted to try this version at all.

“This is delicious!” the boys kept saying about their own, cheese-laden lasagna. “It doesn’t matter,” I would reply. “It’s not going on the blog.”

So I soldiered on with what I was calling my Unfun Lasagna. To be fair, it wasn’t terrible. It just wasn’t full of the cheese goodness I’ve grown to know and love in my usual lasagna. Ella’s lasagna never stood a chance.

Curious about he Unfun Lasagna my husband Tim did take the second piece to give it a try. He said while it was good, he wouldn’t go out of his way to eat it or ask for it again.

I feel the same way. I could see how a vegan would like this, but as I’m not vegan I can continue with my cheese loving ways with our usual vegetable lasagna.

I fear this might be a long month.

“Veggie Lasagna” from “Deliciously Ella”

“Tomato and Coconut Cassoulet” from “A Modern Way to Eat”

CBAMCassouletTim: Cassoulet! Without the pork products!

Nicholas (11): What do you mean?

Tim: Usually with cassoulet, you have beans and some sort of pork product, like chorizo.

Maureen: Not tonight, though. This is a vegetarian cassoulet.

Nicholas: I think I would like it better with chorizo.

Maureen (looking in his bowl): How can you say that? You haven’t even eaten any of it yet! Believe me, I think most things can be improved with the addition of pork products. But in this case, I think this is also good.

Andrew (said while emptying his bowl): I like it too.

Nicholas (now having eaten said dish): Yes, this is good. I like all the tomatoes.

Maureen: This also was a good use of leftover bagel. I was supposed to use sourdough bread, which would have been fine, but it would be a waste to get a new loaf just for this.

Tim: Yes. This is definitely one to use stale bread for, because you just need something to soak up the tomato juice. Also, if you had used the foccacia that we have, that would have gotten completely lost.

Maureen: Yes, I think you’re right. I don’t think she should include coconut in the title. I almost didn’t make it, since I’m not a fan of coconut. But actually there’s only four tablespoons of it in the recipe, and you can’t taste it at all.

Nicholas: I can’t taste any coconut.

Maureen: I think this is a winner. We should do this again for Meat Free Monday.

Tim: I would happily eat this again.

Maureen: So would I.

If you would like to make this yourself, the Telegraph reproduced the recipe. You can see it by clicking through this sentence. 


“Tomato and Coconut Cassoulet” from “A Modern Way to Eat”

“Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar” from “Jerusalem”


This looks delicious, right? I could just eat that whole platter of food right now, looking at the picture again. You’ve got the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash and onions, the tahini dressing and then the taste sensation that is za’atar* spices.

*For those of you who don’t know, za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of spices that includes combination of sesame seeds, sumac, salt, oregano, cumin and dried marjoram. It’s obviously gone mainstream (Thanks Ottolenghi!) because you can find it in the spice rack at Waitrose and other sumpermarkets.

Yum. I loved it.

Unfortunately, my family didn’t agree.

Tim liked it fine but didn’t love it. His conclusion: “It was better than I would have thought.” To be fair, he isn’t a fan of butternut squash. I don’t know why that’s true, but we all have our own special food hang ups*, so I can understand.

*If you’re wondering, my food hangup/thing I won’t eat is beets, Andrew’s (14) is cavolo nero and Nicholas’s (10) is spinach.

Nicholas, who does like butternut squash, just didn’t like the whole combination of flavours. There’s a LOT going on in this dish, which I think was a bit much for his 10-year-old palate. Andrew tried it, but didn’t eat much of it. I blame the massive amount of couscous that he loaded up on his plate but maybe all the flavours were too overwhelming for him.

Would I make it again for my family? Probably not. They don’t appreciate it enough. Would I make again for myself? You bet.

If you would like to make this for yourself– and if you like butternut squash, I recommend that you do– click through this sentence to see the recipe in its original form in the Guardian, before it was published in Jerusalem.

“Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar” from “Jerusalem”