Parenting

3 Easy Family Meals You Can Make at Home

What local chefs serve when it's their turn to host—and how you can do it, too.
Photograph by Kate Warren Photograph by Kate Warren Photograph by Getty Images. Illustrations by Paul Dickinson.

Washington chefs have to be on their toes, and many are skilled at whipping up a personalized meal, or a dessert, for their restaurant customers. But, what do they serve for their own parties? Here are a few crowd-pleasing suggestions.

Dumplings

Scott Drewno | The Source Executive chef

Drewno is known for the Asian dumplings he offers at the Source, and the kid-friendly bites are among his go-to dishes for entertaining at home. Pre-made dumpling wrappers and a quick filling make this an easy nibble to put together at a moment’s notice.

Drewno’s filling suggestions include pork, a mushroom mixture, ground chicken and duck. Boil the dumplings for five minutes and then sauté each side for one minute, until crispy and brown.

Chef’s Tip: Want to get the kids involved? Prepare the filling, create an assembly line, and have “little fingers” fill and pinch the dumplings closed.

Roasted Pig

RJ and Judy Cooper | Chef and owners of Gypsy Soul and Rogue 24

RJ and Judy Cooper, the husband-and-wife team behind restaurants Gypsy Soul and Rogue 24, save their favorite dish for big parties with family, friends, and their restaurant teams: a roast pig.

After a 24-hour briny ice bath in warm spices, herbs, and maple crystals, the pig spends the day in a La Caja China roaster. The family tradition started as a birthday dinner for the couple’s twin daughters, Ava and Bridgette, but has since turned into a mainstay for Christmas, Memorial Day, and celebratory dinners. “That birthday party turned this into a family tradition—we were also given two Caja Chinas at the time, so we put them to use!” says RJ.

Chef’s Tip: Buy the pig from a local procurer, and be patient—the cooking process is lengthy, but the result is worth the wait.

Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Tiffany Macisaac | Pastry chef and owner of Buttercream Bakeshop

MacIsaac keeps frozen cookie dough on hand to turn out fresh-baked treats whenever company comes. “It’s the perfect end to a gathering,” she says. “The smell of cookies baking is topped only by serving them warm with milk—or egg nog!”

“Make your favorite chocolate-chip cookie dough recipe, but leave the chips out before freezing. Scoop into individual cookie balls and freeze,” says MacIsaac, who is best known for her dessert and bread programs at local restaurants such as Birch & Barley. “Then, when you want to bake cookies, pull out the number you need, defrost, mix in your favorite ingredients, and bake.” MacIsaac recommends chocolate chips or festive combinations like dried cranberries with pecans or macadamia nuts with white chocolate.

Chef’s Tip: Crunched for time? “Keep a few logs of store-bought cookie dough in the freezer. Defrost, mix in nuts and candy, then bake.”

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