Virginia Willis combines the best of both worlds: the South and France in Bon Appetit, Y’all: Recipes and Stories from Three Generations of Southern Cooking.

4 cups canola oil
2 cups pecan halves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat until the oil reaches 350°F on a deep-fat thermometer. Carefully add the pecans and cook until the color deepens, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl. While the nuts are still hot, add the butter and cayenne and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer a plate lined with paper towels.

WHERE TO BUY: Order Bon Appetit, Y’all by Virginia Willis (Ten Speed Press, $32.50/HC, May 2008) from