This is not the most beautiful hors d’oeuvres – it emerges from the oven with a war-torn look, your casserole strewn with singed oil and blackened burned bits. But the abuse of the dish is all in the service of the feta, whose honey-slicked exterior turns to savory candy and whose interior softens to custard. Plus the recipe is such a breeze – it’s a great hors d’oeuvre to include when you have a more ambitious meal to follow. If you can’t find thyme honey – I couldn’t – use a mild flavored honey like acacia and warm it with a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Use a dish that’s just large enough to hold the cheese, otherwise the oil will pool on the open surfaces and could catch fire under your broiler. I’d serve the feta not with pita, but with a rustic cracker or thinly sliced country bread, toasted. —Amanda Hesser
4 to 6
One 8-ounce slab Greek feta, blotted dry
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Greek thyme honey, or other honey
Freshly ground black pepper
Greek-style pita bread, toasted and cut into wedges
Heirloom tomatoes, roasted beets, nuts or pickled vegetables (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Select a small oven-to-table earthenware dish or a small ovenproof sauté pan lined with aluminum foil to help transfer the cheese to a plate after roasting. Place the feta in the dish and cover with the olive oil. Bake until the cheese is soft and springy to the touch but not melted, about 8 minutes.
Preheat the broiler. Heat the honey in the microwave or over a pan of simmering water until it is fluid enough to be spread with a pastry brush and then paint the surface of the feta with it. Broil until the top of the cheese browns and just starts to bubble. Season with black pepper. Serve immediately with pita wedges and, if desired, sliced heirloom tomatoes, roasted beets, nuts or pickled vegetables.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.