Recipe from Larry McGuire, Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar, Austin

Toasted Pecans

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups pecan halves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar, light or dark

Melt butter in a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan. Add pecans and toast over medium heat until brown and fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and toss to coat evenly. Pour pecans onto paper towels to drain and cool.

Arugula and Pecan Pesto

1 cup arugula
1 cup basil
1/2 cup toasted pecans (see preceding recipe)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Place first 4 ingredients in a food processor and process until finely chopped, about 30 seconds. With processor running, add olive oil in a slow stream. Add lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and run a few more seconds until thoroughly blended.

Fig Jam

1 1/2 cups dried figs, halved
3 tablespoons Madeira or port, plus a bit more if needed
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a small, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of liquid is absorbed and figs are soft. Pour into a food processor and purée until mixture has a jammy texture, adding Madeira or water to make spreadable.

Goat Cheese

1 1/2 pounds goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons plus
1 teaspoon honey
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup buttermilk
2 packets unflavored gelatin
1 teaspoon kosher salt

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat first 3 ingredients on low speed until smooth. Set aside. Heat buttermilk in a medium saucepan until warm to the touch, add gelatin, and stir to dissolve. Pour into goat cheese mixture, add salt, and beat on high speed until very smooth and light.

To assemble, line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing enough overhang to cover the top. Divide goat cheese mixture into 3 portions. Layer the ingredients in order from bottom to top: pecans (curved side down), goat cheese, pesto, goat cheese, jam, goat cheese. Cover with overhanging plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve, invert onto a platter and peel off plastic. Surround with crackers or crudités. Serves 20 to 25.