A Holiday Menu From Canadian Celebrity Chef Trish Magwood
Try recipes, like the Curried Chicken Thighs with Pomegranate pictured above, from Trish Magwood's cookbook 'My New Table' for a fresh, casual approach to entertaining during the festive season. Photo: Ksenija Hotic
“I see beauty in dirty vegetables,” says Ont.-based celebrity chef and TV personality Trish Magwood, adding that she wanted her new book My New Table: Everyday Inspiration for Eating and Living, to focus on simple recipes that showcased seasonal ingredients.
My New Table does just that, reflecting what Magwood describes as her good old-fashioned “salt and pepper, butter and olive oil” approach to cooking. With a collection of more than 100 recipes, this stunningly photographed book is chock-full of easy and delicious family friendly dishes for the holidays, or anytime.
Other cookbooks in Magwood’s award-winning repertoire include Dish Entertains and In My Mother’s Kitchen. She was also the founder of Toronto’s popular Dish Cooking Studio and host of Food Network’s Party Dish.
Here, we serve up four recipes from My New Table for a fresh, casual approach to entertaining during the festive season — including such palate-pleasers as her Christmas Euchre Tourney Salad and Curried Chicken Thighs With Pomegranate — but first, some culinary wisdom from Magwood.
Q&A With Trish Magwood
Can you share your favourite flavour boosters — and any other secret weapons?
My secret weapon is mother nature — using ingredients in season. For example, you can’t beat asparagus just picked and local. And when it comes to preparation, less is more: simply roast with oil, salt and pepper. Roasting sweetens and adds depth of flavour, like in my Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup (recipe below).
And for whenever is makes sense, spice things up with a curry blend, but fried first, like in the Curried Chicken Thighs recipe (below).
What is your go-to dish for cooking/entertaining without the stress?
Over the years, I’ve trained myself to be organized, plan ahead and make ahead. Oh, and clean as you go. I think that’s the key to a stress-free kitchen. Set up a self-serve bar (room temperature) or make ahead casual snacks.
What items/ingredients do you keep stocked in your pantry/fridge?
Here’s my list: good olive oil, Maldon sea salt, good balsamic, good parm, chicken stock, nuts and seeds, San Marzano canned tomatoes, jarred hot peppers.
What is your favourite snack, healthy and otherwise?
Charred shishitos and pickled jalapeños — I love the heat. And for sweet, Kates Dates (recipe below) — stuffed with peanut butter dipped in chocolate!
Favourite dishes to cook with the kids (or grandkids)
My mom is an awesome cook, as was my grandmother. My kids are really comfortable in the kitchen. Three generations of cooking is the norm in our house, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas where we all revert to being kids and my mom and aunt run the show. My girls love to bake with me (and my mom, but she’s tougher on licking the spoon and bowl!).
This Q&A has been edited and condensed
Roasted Tomato + Red Pepper Soup
It’s hard to beat the depth of flavour and sweetness you get from roasting tomatoes, but if it’s too hot to turn on the oven, a quick and simple sauté makes for a summer soup that is just as refreshing and delicious. Come winter, don’t shy away from using cans of San Marzanos or look for fire-roasted tomatoes for maximum flavour.
2 lb/900 g roma tomatoes, cut into thirds, or 2 (28 oz/ 796 ml each) cans San Marzano tomatoes with juices
1 red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
Salt + freshly cracked pepper
3 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
½ cup chopped basil
1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Arrange the tomatoes and peppers in a single layer on the prepared pan, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.
4. Toss to coat.
5. Roast for 20 minutes.
6. Drizzle with the balsamic and roast for another 10 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and caramelized.
7. In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter.
8. Add the onions and sauté for 10 minutes or until the onions are softened and light brown.
9. Season with salt and pepper.
10. Add the tomatoes and peppers, and sauté for 5 minutes.
11. Add the stock and bring to a boil.
12. Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
13. Remove from the heat.
14. Using an immersion blender (or a blender, working in batches), purée until smooth.
To serve, ladle the soup into soup bowls, finish with basil, and season with salt and pepper.
Christmas Euchre Tourney Salad
Our friends in Creemore host a big annual euchre tournament. The first year I was invited, I was new to euchre — which was not going to work for this party. So I won them over by offering to bring a salad, which became a ritual. Years later, I tied for second place and won part of the pot of money. Even so, I’m still terrible at euchre. But it’s one of the best nights — all about friends, good food, and games.
3 cups peeled, deseeded + cubed butternut squash
¼ cup + 1 tbsp olive oil
Salt + freshly cracked pepper
1 red bell pepper
4 cups chopped kale + mixed greens
¼ cup aged balsamic vinegar
1 ½ cups pickled onions
¼ cup pepitas, toasted
½ cup soft goat cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
3. Spread the squash out on the prepared sheet.
4. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
5. Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is soft and brown.
6. Set aside to cool.
7. If you have a gas burner, place the whole pepper directly into the high flame using metal tongs, turning to char it completely on all sides, about 6 minutes total.
8. If you don’t have a gas range, halve the pepper, discard the stem and seeds, and broil on a sheet pan until charred, about 5 minutes.
9. Seal the pepper in a plastic or paper bag and set aside to steam and cool.
10. When cool enough to handle, remove from the bag and peel off the blackened skin (it should slide off easily).
11. Don’t rinse. If you roasted the pepper on an open flame, discard the core and seeds. Slice the pepper into thin strips.
To assemble the salad, combine the kale, remaining olive oil, and the balsamic. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Layer the squash, bell peppers, pickled onions, pepitas, and goat cheese on top.
Curried Chicken Thighs With Pomegranate
Curry powder is the workhorse of the spice world: as a blend of many spices, it does the work for us. The combination of the aromas of the curry combined with the crunch of pomegranate seeds will have you coming back to this one time and time again. Enjoy this with your favourite winter salad (like the Christmas Euchre Tourney Salad above), or over rice.
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Salt + freshly cracked pepper
2 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
2 tsp curry powder
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 cup pomegranate seeds
4 cups cooked rice, for serving
1. Pat dry the chicken, and season with salt and pepper.
2. In a large fry pan over medium heat, heat the oil.
3. Add the curry powder and fry for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon.
4. For a deeper curry flavour and more heat, use an additional teaspoon or two of curry powder.
5. Add the chicken. Increase the heat to medium-high and fry the chicken until browned, about 3 minutes per side, cooking in batches if needed.
6. Remove the chicken and set aside.
7. To the same pan, add the stock to the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate any bits of chicken that got stuck, and reduce until thickened, about 5 minutes.
8. Turn down the heat to medium. return the chicken to the pan.
9. Cook until the chicken juices run clear, about 15 minutes.
10. In the pan, top the chicken with the yogurt, allowing it to warm and run down into the sauce. remove from the heat, and top with the pomegranate seeds. Enjoy over rice.
My friend Kate (my go-to friend for skiing and also let’s-go-out-somewhere- for-a-cocktail) shared this decadent treat, which is now a firm favourite of mine. It combines peanut butter and chocolate — my idea of a perfect pair. The deal was that we’d call the recipe Kate’s Dates. It’s hard to eat just one.
16 dates, pitted
¼ cup crunchy peanut butter (+ more as needed)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Flaked sea salt
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Using a sharp knife, cut a slit in each date from end to end to butterfly them.
3. Place them open-side up on the prepared sheet.
4. Fill each date with about 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, pinch the date closed, and return to the baking sheet.
5. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
6. Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer, place a stainless steel bowl over the pot, and melt the chocolate. Or, in a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate for 1 to 1 ½ minutes in the microwave.
7. Stir until completely smooth.
8. Set aside to start to cool.
9. Remove the dates from the freezer.
10. Dip them, one at a time, into the warm, melted chocolate, coating them completely.
11. Return to the baking sheet and sprinkle the top of each date with a pinch of sea salt.
Let the chocolate-covered dates set completely in the fridge until the chocolate is hardened, a few hours.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Excerpted from My New Table by Trish Magwood Copyright 2021 Trish Magwood. Photography Ksenija Hotic. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
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