A Quick Bite With Trish Magwood

A Quick Bite With Trish Magwood

Once a private chef, Trish Magwood is a mother of three who has cooking studio, cookbook, television series, boutique kitchen store and a gourmet café under her belt. We have no idea how the Toronto-based busy Mom finds the time to juggle her multitude of tasks all while looking casual and cool. She’s currently working on her second cookbook, In My Mother’s Kitchen which will focus on—you guessed it—simple family recipes for busy cooks. Trish shares with us her early love for spinach salad and divulges the lucky individuals who test every recipes in her upcoming book.

Q: What’s your earliest food memory?

A: My younger brother putting his foot in his chocolate birthday cake on the dock at my grandparents – he was 1, I was 3 and his message was – this is mine, all mine, hands off.  I still feel that way today when I have to share chocolate cake.  The same year, I remember getting a microwave – it was huge, the size of a smart car.  My mom was such a good cook, it just sat there, except when she made pudding. Most early food memories involve dessert – my mom’s rule was if you eat your dinner and don’t get up from the table, you always get dessert – highly effective.  I still love chocolate pudding and put a version of hers in my cookbook.

Q: What was your favourite food as a child?

A: Fast food was not part of our life (I’m old) – except on drives home from skiing. I hated eating take out burgers and pizza. I always wanted the salad bar.  I think it was more the salad bar experience, not the salads themselves.  My favourite dinner still today is Christmas dinner -turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, the works.  And buttermilk chocolate cake, and upside down chocolate cake, and chocolate chip cookies – home baking all the way. I have people come up to me saying, “That buttermilk chocolate cake of yours– so good.” And the recipe is almost 100 years old.

Q: Is there a food you loathed as a child and have since learned to enjoy? Or maybe you still can’t stand it? Tell us—what is it?
A: I hated tomatoes, I like them now, but field tomatoes in season, with salt and balsamic drizzled on them.  I am amazed when I see kids popping cherry tomatoes in their mouths like candy – amazing.  I wouldn’t do it, not then, not now.  And brussel sprouts.  In grade 9 I was held captive at a friend’s house at the dinner table – we were not allowed to go to that party until I ate them. I did and I was sick all night.  It’s been about 25 years but I enjoyed the most amazing roasted brussel sprouts at Niagara St Café – officially converted.

Q: What’s your default, throw-together-and-wow-everyone meal?

A: Throw together makes me think impromptu and in a few minutes.  I always have stuff for pasta and risotto stocked.  The low down on pasta is always having an onion or shallot, a jar of roasted red peppers or sundried tomatoes, some vino, fresh spinach or arugula to throw in at the end, a good hunk of parm and good sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.  It’s never the same pasta but like your favourite jeans. I’m comfortable with pasta and I can dress it up with capers and olives or dress it down with double smoked bacon.  Same thing with risotto – with good stock on hand, fresh pesto and peas or fresh tomatoes and a frozen tin of lobster claws, I can actually relax standing and stirring and feed a crowd without getting fussed.Q: What’s the one meal you would love to cook but fear it’s too complicated?

A: I’m not good with delicate pastries – it takes a certain person.  I don’t think cooking is complicated, but other ethnic cuisines can be intimidating.  It’s more about what you’ve grown up with but also not having all the right spices for an Indian curry, or a Cajun blackened fish, or the right equipment for an East coast style Lobster fest or a European style pig roast.  It’s when something is new, that I haven’t tried, and I don’t have what I need that I am a fish out of water.  As soon as I cooked my first turkey, and butchered my first lobster I realized I might not have been graceful, but it wasn’t that hard.

Q: What’s your favourite thing to cook or bake with someone else?
A: I love baking with the kids.  Olivia loves pulling up a stool, gets out the ingredients and tells me she doesn’t need help.  Fin loves writing out the menu, reading the recipe and taste testing and Charlotte loves putting on an apron and making a huge mess. We make lots of muffins. I let the kids toss in however many raisins and chocolate chips they want.  If they make it, they’ll eat it and it’s a great way to get them interested and involved.  I was on snack duty for Fin’s Saturday soccer games and while the kids ate breakfast, we would make Rice Krispies squares for the team.  Kids and parents alike devoured them. They became a ritual and Fin became known for being a great ‘snack bringer’ which seemed as important as being a good player.

Q: What do you love most about cooking?  I love how happy it makes other people (most of the time – but I get tears too.)

A: It’s a really easy way to take care of people.  And I love that with good quality ingredients, I don’t have to do a lot of work, the food speaks for itself.

Q: What’s your favourite food memory with your children?
A: They were my recipe tasters for this book – if they didn’t like it, it didn’t make the cut.  They were so brave.  Fin went nuts when he discovered my Miami style beef short ribs, “These rock, and these definitely go in the book.” We took most of the photos at my parent’s farm and watching the kids yank carrots with their grandparents and eat them dirt and all says it all.  Kids know what’s good.

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