REVIEW: In My Mother’s Kitchen

By Trish Magwood


Cookbook review written by

In My Mother’s Kitchen is available for purchase through or at local bookstores

Quick – name as many Canadian chefs as you can in the next ten seconds. Did Trish Magwood’s name come up? Probably not. That’s because like her recipes, Trish does not feel the need to overcompensate with flamboyant and unnecessary frills. She has nothing to prove. And with a reputation for creating recipes that are simple, reliable, and not to mention pretty gosh darn tasty, she lets her food speak for itself. Now isn’t that refreshing?!

Trish Magwood lives in Toronto (ON) and is a successful Canadian food entrepreneur, teacher, chef and cookbook author. Her first book – Dish Entertains – won a prestigious James Beard Foundation award, and her second cookbook is already creating quite a buzz amongst foodies. Some of you may recognize her from the television series Party Dish, a spin off from her successful catering and cooking school.

The newest release from Trish is a culmination of family favourite recipes that span three generations. In My Mother’s Kitchen (published by HarperCollins Publishers, $39.99 CDN) celebrates family through food, and includes childhood favourite recipes that have been tweaked and modernized for today’s cook. The design is littered with family pictures and beautifully photographed food, giving the book a light and airy feel while clever design elements such as the antique appearance of the paper compliment the fact that these recipes have been passed down through generations.

I truly enjoy Trish Magwood’s recipes, and this book definitely lived up to my expectations. The recipes are reliable, simple, and a true celebration of food. Beyond the three recipes tests I have since whipped up a number of other dishes that have quickly become favourites in my household (such as the Wild Rice Salad). I love the overall look and design of the book and would recommend it to anyone wanting to add to their cookbook collection.

The mantra of this book? “Keep it simple and fresh, and focus on the gathering, even if the broccoli is left on the plate.” Enough said.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

RATING: 5 out of 5 (super moist, full of fresh citrus flavour)

(for a copy of this recipe, please click here)

THE TEST: While this recipe was simple to prepare, be warned that there are several steps involved. This includes sifting all dry ingredients, whipping the butter and sugar mixture, mixing the remaining liquid ingredients and then alternating all dry and wet ingredients until incorporated. These extra steps aren’t time consuming but boy do they make a lot of extra work for the dish pig!

I was excited about the inclusion of buttermilk and yogurt in this recipe, and thought their additions would compliment the tartness of the lemons while keeping the muffins nice and moist.

THE RESULTS: As regular readers of this blog are well aware, I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to muffins and am always on the lookout for another killer recipe to put into rotation. The results of this recipe test have garnered Trish Magwood’s Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins a place in my muffin hall of fame. Incredible! They were unbelievably moist with the perfect amount of tang from both the citrus and buttermilk, and I loved how the topping added a nice sweetness without being overwhelming. NOTE: for the calorie brave Trish recommends adding cream cheese to the lemon glaze, something which I have been avoiding as I know it would then mean I’d have to make these muffins every single day.

Mom’s Meatloaf

RATING: 4 out of 5 (true comfort food)

THE TEST: I’ll never forget when my sister-in-law admitted her mother never made meatloaf when she was growing up, deeming it “poor people food”. Perhaps at one point in history this was the case, but to me it is quintessential comfort food. Seriously, what’s not to love about meatloaf? You can use a variety of ground meat (including beef, turkey, veal, pork, lamb, venison or a combination), it’s a dish that you can quickly throw together, chuck into the oven and forget about until dinner. And the best part? Leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches.

This recipe came together quickly and easily, and chopping all of the veggies was a synch using my Cuisinart Mini Prep Food Processor (just remember to chop the vegetables separately to avoid the softer peppers turning to mush before the onions or celery are diced finely enough). While today’s meatloaf recipes offer a wide variety of tastes and flavours, Trish Magwood has opted to include her mother’s recipe that has been updated slightly but still holds true to its retro roots.

THE RESULTS: Our normal go-to meatloaf recipe is Alton Brown’s Good Eats Meatloaf, and in my mind his recipe is still king. But Mr. Spock and the kids all devoured this recipe, my hubby declaring it to be his new favourite. He appreciated the simplicity of the flavours, finding it really allowed for the taste of the meat to come through without being drowned out in unnecessary spices and condiments. His words, not mine.

The kids loved the chunks of cheddar cheese, mining it out with their forks and piling it on their plates to save the best for last. Because of all of the fresh veg mixed in with the meat it was not overly heavy or greasy, and when topped with the classic tomato ketchup topping there was very little not to love about this dish.

Picnic Chicken Salad

RATING: 3 out of 5 (lacked flavour & difficult to eat)

THE TEST: This particular chicken salad recipe dates back to Trish’s catering days, and was a favourite amongst her clients. With the weather (finally) warming up my thoughts naturally turn to chicken salad, and I was excited to try this dish. Just looking at the gorgeous photo made my moth water, the unique presentation of serving the salad in a hollowed out bread loaf appearing very attractive.

This recipe was easy to prepare, the most time consuming element being chopping all of the goodies (green grapes, celery, green onions, red pepper and toasted almonds). The salad can be made a day ahead, perfect for busy weeknights or picnic preparations.

THE RESULTS: Well this recipe was sure pretty to look at but talk about a pain to eat. Once the bread loaf had been cut into individual slices everything spilled out and became difficult to eat. Perhaps if I had let the salad chill in the bread first it would have proved less messy.

As for the taste, it was extremely disappointing. There was no real flavour and everything tasted so bland. We happen to love curried chicken salad but will not be making this one again. Instead, if you are looking for a killer recipe try Ina Garten’s version…it’s full of all of the flavour missing in this dish.