Makes 12 to 16 bars.
Note: "In the South, we don't take pecans for granted because we know how much work goes into processing the nutmeats out of their shells and hulls," writes Cheryl Day in "Cheryl Day's Treasury of Southern Baking." "The flavor of pecans really blooms when they are baked in a dessert."
• 2 c. flour
• 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
• 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pan
• 1/2 c. lightly packed brown sugar
• 4 eggs, at room temperature
• 2 c. lightly packed brown sugar
• 1 c. dark corn syrup or cane syrup
• 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
• 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
• 1/2 c. flour
• 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
• 1 1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut
• 2 1/2 c. pecan halves
To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides of the pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, and reserve.
In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, beat 12 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar until super light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture, mixing until well blended; the mixture should still be crumbly.
Press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set pan on a wire rack to cool while you prepare the filling.
To prepare filling: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar. Add the corn syrup (or cane syrup), 3 tablespoons melted butter and vanilla extract, whisking to blend, then add the 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt, whisking until completely incorporated. Fold in the coconut and pecans.
Pour the filling over the cooled crust. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and transfer pan to a wire rack. Before cutting let bars cool completely, about 1 hour.
The bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.
Goat Cheese-Black Pepper Quick Bread
Note: Kind of like a muffin and kind of like a sponge cake, the loaf rises and browns beautifully and has a crumb with a little give. Choose a soft goat cheese with a flavor you like. Because soft goat cheese is hard to wrangle into pieces — it's sticky — give yourself the advantage by working with the cheese when it's cold. (I cut the cheese when it's cold and return the pieces to the fridge until I need them.) Size and neatness don't matter here. From "Baking With Dorie: Sweet, Salty, & Simple," by Dorie Greenspan.
• 1 3/4 c. flour
• 1 tbsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
• 3 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1/3 c. milk, at room temperature
• 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil, preferably fruity
• 1 tbsp. honey
• Grated zest of 1 lemon
• 4 oz. soft goat cheese, cut into small pieces (see Note)
• 3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Butter an 8- to 8 1/2-inch loaf pan, or use baker's spray.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, honey and lemon zest in a small bowl. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and, using a flexible spatula, lightly stir the mixtures together; you don't need to be thorough. Add the goat cheese and mint and, using as few strokes as possible, mix until almost uniformly incorporated — it's better to be fast than thorough here. You'll have a heavy, sticky dough. Turn the dough out into the pan and use the spatula to poke it into the corners and to even the bumpy top.
Bake the loaf for 34 to 38 minutes, or until it's golden, tall and crowned (perhaps cracked) and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and leave the loaf in the pan for 3 minutes, then unmold it onto the rack. Turn it right side up and let it cool to room temperature. You can eat the loaf when it's warm, but I think its texture is better when it's allowed to cool.
The loaf cuts beautifully if you use a serrated knife and don't make the slices too thin. Slice the bread about 1/2 inch thick. And wrapped well, the loaf will keep for about 2 days at room temperature or for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost in its wrapper.
Cream of Tomato Soup with Buttery Onions and Orecchiette
Note: "This is basically Campbell's tomato soup but amplified, thanks to the added oomph of habañero chile and sweet buttery onions," write Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi in "Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love." "This makes the soup a little more grown-up, so leave out the chile if you're making this kid-friendly or if you're not that into heat."
• 1/4 c. unsalted butter
• 6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
• 3 onions, finely chopped
• Salt and pepper
• 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
• 14 oz. sweet red cherry tomatoes
• 1/4 c. tomato paste
• 1/2 c. basil leaves, roughly torn
• 1 dried habañero chile (optional, see Note)
• 2 c. vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
• 7 oz. dried orecchiette pasta
• 2 tbsp. heavy cream (or more to taste)
Put the butter, 3 tablespoons of oil, onions, and 1 teaspoon of salt into a large sauté pan on medium heat and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, stirring often, until soft and deeply golden brown. Lower the heat if they get too brown.
Transfer two-thirds of the fried onions to a bowl and stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Return the pan with the remaining onions to medium heat, add the garlic, and fry for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, habañero (if using), and 2 teaspoons of salt and fry for 7 minutes, stirring often. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the stock, 1 1/4 cups of water, and a good grind of pepper and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 12 minutes. Remove the habañero, if using, and squeeze to discard any liquid. Finely chop the habañero and stir into the bowl with the reserved fried onions.
Let the soup cool for 5 to 10 minutes, so it's not dangerously hot, then transfer to a blender and blend until completely smooth.
Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette until al dente, then drain and divide among four bowls. Pour in the soup, then spoon the cream and the onion mixture over the top.
Shakshuka With Feta
Serves 4 to 6.
"In this breakfast-for-dinner era, shakshuka, an Israeli breakfast dish of soft-cooked eggs suspended in a warmly spiced tomato and pepper sauce, neatly checks the box of egg recipes that can be served for lunch or dinner," writes editor Amanda Hesser in "The Essential New York Times Cookbook."
• 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large onion, thinly sliced
• 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
• 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 1 tsp. ground cumin
• 1 tsp. sweet paprika
• 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
• 1 (28-oz.) can whole plum tomatoes, with their juices, coarsely chopped
• 3/4 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
• 5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 c.)
• 6 eggs
• Freshly chopped cilantro for garnish
• Hot sauce for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cumin, paprika and cayenne and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes, season with the salt and pepper and simmer until the tomatoes have broken down and the juices have thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the crumbled feta. Gently crack the eggs over the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes, or to your liking. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce.
New Potatoes Baked in Cream
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: "The delicate golden crust that forms on the potatoes is a little piece of heaven," writes James Oseland in "World Food: Paris." "This dish (gratin dauphinois) makes an excellent vegetarian main course, too."
• 1 c. water
• 1 c. whole milk
• 2 lb. medium new or waxy white potatoes, peeled and sliced crosswise a little less than 1/4-inch thick
• 1 garlic clove
• Butter for baking dish
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
• 3/4 c. heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a 4-quart saucepan over high heat, combine the water and milk and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook at a rolling boil, stirring frequently, until you can just pierce the potatoes with a fork, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potato slices to a plate. Discard the garlic, leaving the cooking liquid in the pan.
Butter a 2-quart gratin dish or a 7- by 11-inch baking pan. Arrange the potatoes in the prepared dish, layering them in neat rows and overlapping the slices slightly. Evenly season with 1 1⁄4 teaspoons salt, a few grinds of pepper and the nutmeg. Pour the water-milk cooking liquid over the potatoes; the liquid should come about three-fourths of the way up the sides of the dish. Discard any remaining liquid.
Bake until the potatoes are almost tender and nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed, 60 to 80 minutes. Pour the cream evenly over the potatoes and bake until their surface is golden brown, about 35 minutes. Serve at once.