For the past few years I’ve written about various renditions of Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas and rice cooked with smoked pork), the centerpiece dish of a New Year’s Day menu designed to bring good luck.

The tradition, which probably originated in South Carolina, has spread all over the American South and has made its way as far north as Maine, where our neighbors have an annual New Year’s dinner comprised of from-scratch Hoppin’ John, a molasses-glazed spiral-sliced baked country ham, braised collard greens, creamy coleslaw, corn pudding and corn bread.

Guests bring hors d’oeuvres and desserts, and my contribution is always either a greens and bacon croustade or benne seed wafers, the idea being that greens symbolize folding money and the cheese wafers resemble coins, representing more wealth and good fortune in the coming year.

Greens and Bacon Croustade

To make this with fresh greens, use 1½ pounds chopped kale, chard or turnip greens. Add to the skillet after the onion and garlic, along with 1½ cups water, and braise until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Evaporate most of the liquid before adding the cream.

Makes about 30 small squares

5 slices bacon

¾ cup chopped onion

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 (1-pound) package thawed frozen chopped greens, any type

2/3 cup heavy cream

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1 (13.8-ounce) tube refrigerated pizza dough

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-low heat until crisp and fat is rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove, drain on paper towels, chop and reserve.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings. Add onion to the drippings and cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in greens, cream, pepper and about ¾ cup water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until greens are tender and most of the liquid is evaporated, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in cheese and season with salt if necessary. The filling can be made a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with the cornmeal. Unroll dough and roll or stretch into a rectangle to fit in the pan. Spread filling over dough and sprinkle with reserved bacon. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until edges are golden brown and crisp. Slide onto a cutting board and use a large knife to cut into squares. Serve warm or room temperature.

Benne Seed Wafers

In the Deep South, where sesame seeds are called benne, from an African word, the seeds have been savored since slave-trading days and have worked their way into both sweet and savory baked goods. The nice thing about this cheese-rich dough is that it can be prepared way ahead and the wafers can be sliced off and baked whenever you need them.

Makes 4 to 5 dozen wafers

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, preferably yellow cheddar

2 tablespoons cold water

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds, stirring almost constantly, until fragrant and one shade darker in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Transfer to waxed paper to cool.

In a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cayenne and black pepper. Pulse a few times to blend. Add butter and cheese and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the cold water on the mixture and process until dough clumps together and begins to form a ball on top of the blades.

Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 12 inches long and 1½ inches in diameter. Roll in the sesame seeds, pressing them firmly into the dough so they adhere. (You will have a tablespoon or so of extra seeds. Reserve them.) Chill dough in the freezer for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator for 2 hours. (Dough can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated, or frozen.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a sharp knife, cut dough into 1/8- to ¼-inch slices and arrange on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle each with a pinch of reserved sesame seeds. Bake 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness, until golden and tinged with brown around the edges. Cool on wire racks.

Can be made a day ahead and stored in a covered container or freeze for up to 2 weeks.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at: