6 Bay Area Lady Chefs Share Their Holiday Faves
Cherry-Almond Clafoutis by Belinda Leong of b.Patisserie. (Christina Holmes)

6 Bay Area Lady Chefs Share Their Holiday Faves


The halls are decked, the tree is trimmed, but the hardest part of hosting remains: You're going to have to cook something!

Set your holiday party apart from the rest by taking a recipe or two from some of the leading ladies of the Bay Area's culinary scene. Here, some of our top women chefs share their holiday favorites with a global spin—think Mexican-inspired stews and Scandinavian sweets.

Melissa Perello, Octavia

(Michael Surgue)

"One of my personal favorite things to make each year is some variation of a savory galette, typically involving some type of roasted winter squash and cured pork or sausage. It's been a family tradition every holiday." -Melissa Perello, chef/owner at Frances and Octavia.

Melissa's Galette

Tart Dough for Shell

  • 20 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 oz. salt
  • .5 oz. black pepper, freshly ground
  • 8 oz. unsalted butter, cold
  • 4 oz. lard, room temperature
  • 8 to 10 Tbsp. ice cold water
  1. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut cold butter into dry ingredients in pea-sized pieces. Process the lard in small chunks into the dry ingredients, as well, using a pastry cutter or food processor.
  2. Move dough to a large mixing bowl. Add water a few tablespoons at a time and mix only until just incorporated. Dough will need to be pressed/compacted to hold a ball
  3. Wrap dough with plastic wrap, press into a disc shape and chill at least 2 hours.
  4. After chilling, remove dough and roll to 1/8" thick round. Keep round chilled until use.

Tart and Assembly

  • 2 small winter squash (like kabocha, red kuri, or butternut)
  • 1 head of fennel
  • 6 slices pancetta
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig sage
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and split the squashes in half length wise, remove seeds. Place the squash cut side up on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  2. Coat the squash generously with olive oil and season well with salt and black pepper. Place thyme and sage in squash cavity, as well.
  3. Wash the fennel and remove the green tops. Slice the fennel bulb horizontally into 3/4" thick slices. Toss the sliced fennel with salt and olive oil. Sprinkle the fennel around the squash on the baking tray.
  4. Roast the squash and fennel until the squash is fork tender and the fennel has begun to brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Check after 15 minutes to make sure the vegetables are not burning.
  5. Remove the squash and fennel from the oven and immediately cover the baking tray with an additional sheet of foil. Allow the squash and fennel to cool wrapped, in the tray, which will allow the vegetables to steam and soften.
  6. Once vegetables have cooled, discard herb sprigs and use a large spoon to scoop the flesh of the squash from the skins. It may break up a bit, which is fine, but try to keep it in large chunks.
  7. Season the squash with additional salt to taste and reserve along with the roasted fennel.
  8. While the vegetables are cooling, place the pancetta on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until it begins to crisp. Remove pancetta from fat and pour any rendered fat over the reserved roasted squash.

To assemble galette:

  1. Place tart dough round on a parchment-lined baking sheet (this will make it easier to slide off onto a cooling rack after baking). Layer the chunks of squash, fennel and pancetta in an even, circular layer, piled no more than an inch and a half high. The pancetta will begin to break into smaller pieces; this is fine. Make sure to leave roughly three inches around the edge of the dough circle to fold over onto the filling.
  2. Fold dough over in three- to four-inch sections, pleating the dough in one direction, to form a somewhat circular and uniform look.
  3. Place the whole tart in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Once tart has chilled, brush the outer layer of the dough with cream just before baking. Bake 40 to 50 minutes in the oven. If tart begins to brown too much, lower oven temperature.
  5. Garnish the galette with arugula, olive oil, cheese, saba, or balsamic vinegar. Serve warm.
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