Ask A South Bay Expert: Compiling The Perfect Holiday Menu

December 4, 2013 4:00 AM

arcadia Ask A South Bay Expert: Compiling The Perfect Holiday MenuArcadia (credit:

Holiday menus are filled with recipes that often become family favorites, passed down from one generation to another. Sharing holiday recipes is a way to start building family menu traditions. Read on as one South Bay chef shares tips and recipes from his family’s holiday favorites.

Chef Evan Perlick is Chef de Cuisine at Arcadia, the Modern American Steakhouse restaurant in the San Jose Marriott. Chef Evan has opened restaurants and developed kitchen teams with renowned chef Michael Mina for more than 12 years. Prior to his association with the Mina team, Chef Evan was a tournant at Auberge de Soleil in Rutherford, California. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Chef Evan dedicates his love of cooking and culinary culture to creating memorable dining experiences for his guests.

chef evan perlick Ask A South Bay Expert: Compiling The Perfect Holiday MenuArcadia
Modern American Steakhouse
San Jose Marriott
100 W. San Carlos St.San Jose Marriott
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 278-4555
Chef Evan Shares Several Tips For A Great Holiday Menu:

“When planning a holiday menu, it is best to work around a theme. Knowing that the meal will be a brunch, an early supper or a formal dinner is the first step in designing your menu. For the holidays in my family, we like to keep long-standing traditions and recipes going. I also will plan my menus based on the weather. Here in California, we may be able to get away with lighter fare, but for the Midwest, you may need to plan on something that will warm people up. Try not to over complicate menus; three to four great dishes are better than five to seven average dishes. Finally, use the bounty of the season to inspire some of your menu items.”

Chef Evan’s Tips:

  • Have something for your guests to graze on before the meal. Perlick does a pickle tray (assorted pickles and olives), a crudité platter, cheese and maybe some nuts. This will keep your guests busy while you make finishing touches to the meal.
  • Try to pre-order your turkey, prime rib or other large expensive main course protein ahead of time. This will help ensure top quality and size of the item you want.
  • Have fun and enjoy the holiday. It only comes around once a year, and for some it may be the only time we see some of our loved ones. Don’t let the small speed bumps ruin the meal. Work through them and turn them into stories and lore for years to come.
Chef Evan shares two recipes for the holiday table:

Cranberry Sauce
This is Evan’s mom’s recipe and is a family favorite, but watch out if the kids start to act funny.

  • 4 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brandy

Wash the cranberries. In a casserole, mix sugar and cranberries, cover and bake in a 300-degree F oven for one hour. Remove from oven, uncover, add brandy and stir gently so as to not break up all of the cranberries; let cool to room temperature. Store in a three-piece mason jar. This will be good for at least a month.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Arugula Pesto

Arugula Pesto

  • 9-10 oz. arugula, washed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 oz. toasted Marcona almonds
  • 4 oz. Parmesan Reggiano, microplaned
  • 1 pinch red chili flakes
  • Meyer lemon juice, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Blanch and shock the arugula to just set the color. Squeeze out most of the excess water from the arugula. In a food processor, add arugula, garlic, almonds and chili flakes. Process and slowly add olive oil. Finish by folding in Parmesan cheese and seasoning with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, halved
  • Meyer lemon juice to taste (juice of half a lemon)
  • Parmesan Reggiano, microplaned, to taste (a nice snow covering over the top)
  • 2 oz. arugula pesto (enough to nicely coat the Brussels sprouts)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

This is what we call a “dry fry” method with the Brussels sprouts, where we do not blanch the vegetable; we simple fry it raw until tender.

Clean away outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half lengthwise. Pre-heat a pot of vegetable oil to 375 degrees F with enough oil to cover the Brussels sprouts by a couple of inches. Drop the Brussels in the fryer and cook until tender and golden brown. Remove from oil and let drain for a moment. In a bowl, toss them with the arugula pesto. Adjust seasoning with Meyer lemon juice, salt and pepper. Finish by microplaning Parmesan all over the top.

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at

Watch & Listen LIVE