Roasted garlic, mushroom and rosemary soup with cashew cream (vegan)

Tinks, this one is for you.

Mushrooms? Bleurgh.

Mushroom soup? Double bleurgh.

In the past I was convinced that mushrooms were grotesque, malformed spies, sent from Hades’ fiery underworld to torment and repulse.

I have since, however, had a change of heart. And this soup has sealed the deal.

The soup, guys, is f***ing dope.

  • It’s not expensive to make.
  • It’s a low maintance meal – not much faffing involved.
  • It only used one pot and one griddle pan.
  • It tastes so. dang. good.

The cashew cream is very much optional. The soup is already very creamy, so doesn’t ‘need’ the cashew cream. I like enjoy playing with my food, apparently.

Anyway, the cashew cream…urgh. So, I used to have disposable pipettes for decorating food, but I must have thrown them out when I moved. D’oh. The design looks like astrocytes. Or fat ladies dancing. You decide.

Roasted garlic, mushroom and rosemary soup

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Print

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes

Cooking time: ~50 minutes

Serve with: Bread and gratitude.

Freezes well? Yezzzir.


  • 600g of mushrooms – I used 50/50 close-cup/chestnut
  • 1-2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 white onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic – skin still on
  • 2 stock cubes
  • A small glug of oil


  1. Chop your onions and tear up/chop your mushrooms.
  2. Add a small glug of oil to a deep pot, heat, then add the chopped onions. Keep on a low heat until the onions have softened.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of water, then add your sprigs of rosemary. Keep the sprigs whole!
  4. After a minute or two, add your mushrooms.
  5. Dissolve 2 stock cubes in 1 litre of boiling water, then add this to the pot with the onion, mushroom and rosemary.
  6. In the meantime, use a griddle pan to roast your garlic. Heat up a griddle pan on the hob, then add your cloves of garlic (skin on), then leave until the skin has darkened and blistered. This will take 5-10 minutes.
  7. Once ‘roasted’. Remove the garlic from the skins, then add to the soup pot.
  8. Let the onion, mushroom etc. bubble away for 40 minutes or so over a low-medium heat.
  9. Remove from the heat. Fish out the sprigs of rosemary – or at least the stalks!
  10. Blend. Enjoy.

Cashew cream

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Print

Preparation time: 0 minutes

Cooking time:  5-10 minutes.


  • 1/4 cup of cashews
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon


  1. Either soak your cashews overnight, or boil them on the hob for 5-10 minutes until soft.
  2. Discard most of the water.
  3. Add cashews, salt and cinnamon to the blender.
  4. Blitz until creamy.

Happy eating beauties!

Your lass,

Cat x


Pack your bags pal: hand-luggage essentials

Dearest, loveliest Alison,

Last week I was delighted to hear that you, my childhood friend, are coming to London.  We’ve not been able to see each other very often as I’ve been in London for the past 4 years…and you’ve been in Aberdeen. It’s been a challenge. If I’m honest, I’m rather quite excited to see you.

Last night you asked me “what should I pack?”. My mind was running riot, I love packing for holidays! Yes, I love it. But my enthusiasm was soon to be thrown a curve-ball: you only have hand-luggage allowance. What’s a girl to do with that? A hair dryer alone will take up the best part of a handbag. I know what you’re thinking, why am I not letting you use my stuff? I’ll tell you, you’re staying elsewhere for 5 nights and are joining me on your last night, that’s why. Otherwise we’d have no packing problems!

So, as I’m so nice, I’ll write your packing list for you: London essentials. I’ve almost always been lucky enough to have my luggage in the main hold (apart from that one time at Charles du Gaulle Airport in Paris where I had to squash an entire box of macaroons into my handbag. I should have just used my mouth…). Your challenge is new for me, but yes sir: I accept!

The restrictions are pretty uniform across the board, and only 5 lots of 100ml of liquid is permitted to be carried in hand luggage. Liquids include ‘cosmetics and toiletries, including creams, lotions, oils, perfumes, mascara and lipsticks’ and the sprays include ‘shaving foam, hairspray and spray deodorants’. This could be interesting!

Firstly Alison, I’d advise you to have a good epilate before you come down so that you don’t have to worry about hair removal paraphernalia. If you want to follow a large proportion of London’s lead, forget your deodorant too: who really wants fresh pits in their face on the tube anyway? I kid. Bring your BO buster.

So, excluding your minimalist make-up bag (foundation, blusher, eye-liner and mascara), here are the few beauty essentials that you’ll need:

Item #1: Face Wash.  This is essential. London, London…the town of the big smoke. Yes, it’s a wonderful city but my oh my does your skin get grubby! By the end of the day I always find I’m desperate just to wash my face, removing make-up and all of the nasty London grime that has inevitably found its way onto my face.  There is no feeling quite like washing your face after a day in town. So Alison, given that you are restricted on how much liquid you can take, try and wangle a decent sized sample from a department store. If not, L’Occitane stock their Verdon Pure Face Wash in travel size (rather expensive for such a weenie bottle – £5 nonetheless!).

Item #2: Moisturiser.  This is key within your beauty bag. I don’t really need to say too much about this really because moisturiser should be packed wherever you go.

Item #3: Lip Balm.  Here is an item that you can replace your lipstick with. Well, of course not really – but I’d rather moisturised lips with a hint of colour than dry lips smeared with rouge. A personal choice if you will.

Item #4: 2-in-1 Shampoo-Conditioner. I’m not normally a massive fan of these unless I’m travelling. Aussie have a lovely smelling one, but really you just need something to clean to filth from your locks. It’s only a week – your hair will cope!

Item #5: Hair Mousse. Nobody really cares that much if your hair is big, small, fluffy, frizzy or present in London. Well, a few might, but they can be ignored with confidence. If you’re coming to London and you’re not on a business trip or meeting the in-laws, let your natural locks roam and enjoy themselves too. I know that your hair works great with a little bit of mousse, so ditch the hair-dryer, serum and irons in exchange for some bouncy, lively locks.

Item #6: Contact Lens Solution. Can you not just bring your glasses? Ok, you don’t want to wear them. Fine. Travel sized contact lens solution is available from most high street beauty stores. Don’t fret!

Item #7: Toothpaste.  Unless you’re a total minger, this is a pretty obvious choice.

Ultimately, the main message of this is: go back to basics. Your skin won’t hate you for it, I promise. You’re much better to have a few products that really tackle the task at hand. Forget cotton wool, cleansers, toners, moisturisers, serums, eye creams, and all the other chaps. Your skin has enough challenges in London without confusing it with too many products. If you can’t be bothered buying miniatures: decant! Don’t decant your contact lens solution though, you’ll get stuff in it, then end up with an eye infection and a ruined holiday. Not ideal.

Despite the glamour and the clamour, London can be a pretty dirty place so if you pack some decent basic essentials you’ll be sorted. It may also be worth packing some liquid hand sanitizer, you’d be surprised how many people eat their fast food between holding the hand railings on the tube. Boke.

Anyway, I’m running out of time and you ought to go and pack.

With hugs and warmth,


P.s. No musical instruments are allowed in hand luggage: we’re going to have to rethink our tambourine and triangle duet performance.

Written 24 August 2012 for a previous blog