--- Join the BOSH! duo in Living on the Veg, Mondays 7.30pm from 19 October on SBS Food and then SBS On Demand ---
"Healthy, naughty, hearty, interesting and out-there." That's how Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, YouTube stars, authors of four cookbooks and hosts of new vegan cooking show Living on the Veg, describe their food when SBS grabs the duo for a chat.
We'd rate their self-assessment as spot-on. In Living on the Veg there's everyday deliciousness such as their piri piri 'chorizo' tray bake (we love how they turn vegan snags into chorizo!) and their take on avo on toast. They whip up vegan versions of old favourites (sticky toffee pudding or cheese toastie, anyone?) and creative ideas such as their hugely popular mezze cake (all the great flavours of a mezze platter, in a savoury 'cake'). And they have a huge amount of fun doing it.
Firth and Theasby are the duo behind BOSH! - a website and YouTube channel, and then a series of books, which have all won vegan fans around the globe.
With Living on the Veg starting on SBS Food on October 19, we grabbed the pair to talk about big flavours, the changing face of vegan food and their brand new cookbook - which include an indulgent vegan version of that sweet classic, millionaire's shortbread.
You two seem to have huge amounts of fun with your cooking. It’s a long way from the old stereotype of boring beans and rice when it comes to vegan food. How would you describe your food philosophy?
We’ve always been about “plant-based food for everyone”. We like to think of ourselves as ‘food remixers’ – we like to take those classic dishes we enjoyed as meat-eaters and recreate them with just plants. It means we’re always experimenting in the kitchen. Both of us are creative and see food as an outlet to express our creativity. We’re glad it looks like we're having a good time when we’re cooking, because we really are! We love cooking almost as much as we love eating!
Since you started on your plant-strong journey, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen in how people think about eating veggies?
The last five years have been pretty unbelievable! When we first went vegan, plant-based food was completely misunderstood and frequently ended up being the butt of jokes. It was hard to find decent vegan options in shops and even harder to find them in restaurants. The biggest change we’ve seen since adopting a plant-based diet is just how mainstream it’s become! You can walk into almost any supermarket and restaurant to find tasty plant-based options. We’re so proud to have helped encourage people to get more plants on their plates, whether they’re fully vegan or simply trying to reduce their meat consumption.
Gosh, Bosh! Living on the Veg looks very tasty! Any fave / funny / ‘fail’ moments during filming?
While filming LOTV, we wanted people to see the same big flavours you find in our cookbooks and social media channels! It’s proper tasty grub. We thought it was important to showcase healthy, naughty, hearty, interesting and out-there vegan dishes so people could see how versatile veggies can be.
We were buzzing to be joined by some fantastic guests on the show! Prue Leith was a real highlight because she’s a culinary legend here in the UK.
All of LOTV was filmed way back before UK lockdown happened, so we were filming in a location house. The family were actually in a lot of the time and would nip in to make a cup of tea from time to time which we loved!
Let’s talk vegan cheese! In episode 7, you make ‘camembosh’. I gather this one has a huge following among your fans?
Ian - Camembosh is a magnificent thing. It’s the perfect after-dinner treat – it has the same oozy consistency as camembert and the flavour is lovely. We’ve had lots of brilliant feedback on the recipe and not a bad word about it… reckon it’ll stay that way!
Henry - In all honesty, when we first went vegan, plant-based cheese was awful. It was rubbery and tasted of nothing. There’s been lots of brilliant work done by companies so we’re getting to a point where vegan cheese is genuinely very good. For this Camembosh recipe, the lovely Ellie from Kind State of Mind dropped into our kitchen to make this INCREDIBLE plant-based camembert. It feels like something for which there is just no vegan equivalent, but trust us, this is the good stuff. Give it a go at home, you won’t be disappointed.
And what about those cheese toasties in the first episode! Another good cheesy alternative. Cashews seem to be a theme here – the secret to easy vegan cheese?
Henry - Those cheese toasties from BISH BASH BOSH! are amazing! They’re ever so satisfying and really, really delicious. We used to love cheese toasties before we were vegan so we had to make a good plant-based version.
Ian - The best tip we can give you is NOOCH! Nooch (aka nutritional yeast) is the magic ingredient that gives homemade vegan cheese it’s cheesy flavour. Tapioca flour will help gooiness and meltiness and the cashews are great as a nice solid base.
Congrats on book number four, Speedy BOSH! What’s this one all about?
Thank you! With Speedy BOSH!, we really wanted to make it easier than ever to cook up tasty vegan food. Lots of people tell us they wish they had more time to spend in the kitchen and be creative, but instead, end up relying on the same old recipes… So we came up with Speedy BOSH! which has over 100 delicious recipes that can be on plates in 30 mins. We’re talking fragrant curries, hearty comfort meals and indulgent puds. Same big flavours in no time at all. Plus, we’ve included loads of time-saving hacks that we’ve learnt over the past five years as BOSH!
We got stopped in our tracks by the millionaire's shortbread recipe in the new book – a five-star dairy-free dessert! Millionaire’s shortbread is a classic – is it something that one or both of you have fond memories of from your pre-vegan days?
We’re both big fans of millionaire’s shortbread because they used to sell it in a bakery near our old school in Sheffield. The Speedy millionaire’s shortbread is basically the perfect dessert. It’s chocolatey, gooey, crunchy and it takes less than half an hour to make! A great thing to whip up if you want a tasty treat!
Has either of you been to Australia?
Ian - I’ve never been but would love to go. In fact, we were supposed to be coming down to Australia at the end of this year but covid had other ideas, unfortunately!
Henry - I lived in Australia for 6 months in my early twenties and had an amazing time. I love it and can’t wait to visit again!
We might have to wait a while to see the duo in person, but in the meantime, catch them in Living on the Veg, Mondays on SBS Food at 7.30pm and then via SBS On Demand.
I love the classic version of these Middle Eastern baked eggs in spicy, rich tomato sauce. I wanted to know if I could make a vegan version that retained all the elements that make this dish great: the textures, saucy spiciness and richness. And you know what? I reckon I did it.
It’s time to proudly display your love of vegetables, with lumps of pumpkin stirred through this mac ’n’ cheese instead of being snuck into the cheese sauce.
We’re not mad about calling vegetables a ‘steak’ or ‘burger’ or ‘schnitzel’, because it feels like you are trying to pass them off as something else, something superior. Vegetables are great simply as they are. In fact, they are the best! Sometimes, though, using a meaty name helps you understand what’s going on and how delicious it is. Our portobellos aren’t trying to be a steak, they are simply as good as any steak (with mash), if not better.