Savour the Moment with… Melissa Hemsley
At Royal Doulton we embrace a slower approach to life, and encourage all to Savour The Moment. Here we catch up with chef Melissa Hemsley, who shares this ethos, creating recipes that focus on comfort and joy – two things we delight in at Royal Doulton.
I’m a big advocate for a daily walk, preferably first thing so that I can soak up the morning light. I take my staffie Nelly out for a good stomp around the park then I come home and cook myself a nourishing breakfast. At this time of year it’s usually something warming like baked oats. That first hour or so of the day is probably the one I savour the most!
Tell us about your serving style.
When I have people over I like to put out seasonable flowers on the table (like some eucalyptus and berry sprigs from my garden) maybe a relaxed linen table cloth and definitely some candles to make things welcoming and cosy. In terms of food and serving, I like to keep things casual with big serving plates in the middle of the table for everyone to dig in and help themselves, family style .
I’m all about frazzle-free cooking when I have loved ones over. People feel relaxed when you as the host feel relaxed! If I’m entertaining in the autumn and winter months I like to make something hearty and cosy like my mushroom pearl barley with roasted squash. Then for pudding I’ll make the 3 ingredient chocolate pots on page 230 in my book Feel Good. I whip them up in advance, they only take 5 minutes to make, then they set in the fridge until I’m ready to serve (bonus: they’re plant-based so everyone can enjoy!). I like to serve them with a platter of ingredients for topping so that people can customise their own chocolate pot and add whatever they like as a final flourish. At this time of year, I’d go for beautiful pomegranate seeds, maybe some slices of orange or clementine and lots of chopped nuts for crunch.
If people pop round for brunch or in the afternoon, I’ll make the banana blueberry bake from Feel Good. Served up with a mug of warming mulled apple with ginger, cinnamon and clove for the cosiest of cosy vibes.
And what is your favourite recipe for creating & sharing joy?
When I think of joyful food I think of colourful, seasonal ingredients and abundance. For sharing joy, I love to make a big batch of soup or stew and take a few portions to friends for freezing so that they have an easy, comforting meal for those days when they need a lift. At the moment I’m loving this beetroot soup with spiced sticky nuts, the colour alone brings instant joy!
I completely agree, I’m always trying to slow down, count my blessings and look for moments of joy and gratitude. Especially in the autumn and winter months it’s a time to rest, reflect and hibernate with cosy comfort foods. Most of all I really recommend a laptop free lunch! Putting away digital devices at meal times, rejecting the pressure to multi-task and instead savouring my food makes a huge difference to how I feel for the rest of the day.
What’s your favourite Royal Doulton piece/collection & why?
The soup bowl in the recipes as I have soup every day and I use them for my breakfast loaded porridge too - I love making carrot cake spiced porridge. It’s the perfect shape, beautiful to hold and shows off colourful vibrant food perfectly.
RECIPESDiscover the joy of food with these exclusive recipes from Melissa:
Mulled apple with ginger, cinnamon and cloves1 litre apple juice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 fat thumbs of ginger, sliced
1 orange, zest peeled in strips, flesh sliced for serving
Honey or maple syrup, to taste
Put all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a very gentle simmer.
Maintain the gently simmer for 15 minutes then strain and serve.
Serve up each mug with a slice of orange
Beetroot soup with spiced sticky nuts
30g unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Small bunch of thyme
500g beetroot, scrubbed and roughly chopped
1 litre veg or chicken stock
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper
For the spiced sticky nuts
20g unsalted butter
2 large handfuls of nuts, roughly chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp maple syrup
Fresh herbs (dill, parsley or chives)
Melt the butter in a large pan and once foaming add the onion and a pinch of salt and pepper. Fry for 10-12 minutes until soft then add the garlic and thyme, fry for another 2 minutes. Add the beetroot and stock, bring to a boil then cover with a lid and reduce to a simmer for 20-30 minutes until tender.
As the soup simmers, make the spiced sticky nuts. Melt the butter in a frying pan and once foaming add the nuts and spices. Fry for about 3 minutes until lightly golden, stirring fairly continuously, then add the maple syrup and fry for another minute or so until it forms a sticky coating for the nuts. Spread out on a plate or tray lined with parchment paper and sprinkle over flaky salt.
Once the beetroot is tender, blitz the soup until smooth then stir through the apple cider vinegar and taste for seasoning.
Serve the soup with yoghurt, herbs and the sticky nuts sprinkled on top.
Follow @melissa.hemsley on Instagram for more tips on how to feel good through food.