Food writer and cookbook author Melissa Hemsley is infectiously positive, always on the lookout for a new way to use up fridge-leftovers, and forever with an eye on feel-good grub that makes the most of the seasons.
Her latest cookbook, Eat Green, is ideal to dig out now, to help you make the most of the abundance of spring veg we're seeing.
We caught up with her, to grill her on her kitchen and eating habits…
Your death row meal would be… My mum's feel-good fish sinigang soup, because it's got all the feel-good ingredients – if you're veggie, you can replace the fish with mushrooms or extra squash or sweet potato. It's just brothy and if you like a tom yum soup, it's got that, but not the sweetness; it's sour in a good way. I love sour, it's lip-smackingly lovely and it makes you feel amazing.
The thing you still can't make is… Whenever I see a wedding cake. My friend Clare Ptak of Violet Bakery – she did Harry and Meghan's lemon and elderflower wedding cake – I look at something like that and think, 'I wish I could make an amazing cake'. I've got four godkids and I wish I could make them amazing Frozen and The Greatest Showman Cakes, and I can't. I would not be entering Bake Off.
Your favourite store-cupboard essential has to be… We are an island, and I really think we could be eating more seaweed, and if the idea of seaweed is off-putting, what I do love is seaweed salt. And then something a bit more everyday, I love apple cider vinegar. It's amazing, because we're not citrus growers here, and I use a lot of lemons, limes and oranges, and I wanted to be a bit more mindful about that, and I thought vinegar is a really good one for adding that splash of brightness to dressings, sauces, gravies, everything.
The kitchen utensil you couldn't live without has to be… I feel like I'm choosing between children. I'd say, just a very decent big pot. I tend to use the same pan, even though I have loads. Also, I love a grater, the fine graters – microplanes. I love that because it means you can really finely grate garlic and ginger, and if you're in a rush and you can't be bothered to chop nicely, it's great. But an old-fashioned box grater is – no pun intended – a great way to get in extra veggies. So, at the minute, I'm grating carrots and parsnips into everything stew-based. Sometimes you're in the mood to chop, and sometimes you're in the mood to not think and grate. In the summer, I was growing courgettes in my garden and I had so many, I was grating them into everything.
If you get hungry late at night, the snack you'll reach for is… A fritter. What's my Nigella coming down the stairs in my dressing gown on moment? I'd eat anything – I love leftovers. But cold, out of the fridge, I'd go for a fritter. I'm not a sweet-toothed person. A few slices of apple and some really good cheddar, really nutty.
Your signature dish is… Some sort of leftover throw together. I make Filipino chow mein, I've always got carrots and cabbage. A fridge-raid frittata, and I'd normally have broccoli or cauliflower in it. Or a lovely big stew or a soup. My number one tip for when everything feels too much, it might feel like you want to call for a takeaway, but actually, probably, it could be a really good opportunity to make a soup, because the act of deciding to make something for yourself, the act of chopping it and putting it together – when you feel really out of control with everything – when you put a handful of ingredients and blend them in a pot and it's smooth and creamy and delicious, I genuinely think it has a positive effect on everyone. Maybe with something like halloumi croutons on the top, which is my new favourite thing.
You like your eggs… I've been going for a jammy egg at the moment, so somewhere between a soft boiled and a hard boiled, and I've been sprinkling furikake – seaweed salt, chilli and sesame seeds – on top.
Last night you had… I had a really late dinner. I'd done some recipe testing and I had a brown lentil cavolo nero stew, which honestly was a bit boring, then I fried some rosemary from the garden in butter and poured it in, and I had that.
Your ultimate hangover cure is… Who's got time to be hungover these days? It's not worth it. I would say go outside with the dog, and then I'd make a fridge-raid frittata or the one pan veggie breakfast [in the book]. And then I'd probably go and lie on the sofa with my dog, watch The Crown [on Netflix], and then call my mum.
You cannot stomach…Sometimes I'm funny about beetroot. I love it, but sometimes, when it hasn't been scrubbed well enough and it tastes a bit earthy… I didn't used to like oysters until about five years ago. My mum and dad would be like, 'You have to eat everything, because if there's a natural disaster, or the world ends, you'll be the first to die, so you better eat everything'. They were so mean!
Eat Green by Melissa Hemsley, photography by Philippa Langley, is published by Ebury Press, priced GBP 22. Available now.