Sometimes, you have to trust your sources.
Last week, I suddenly remembered I had agreed to have 12 friends over for dinner. Luckily, I remembered with a couple of days to spare. Coming up with a fast plan, I wanted a simple appetizer, something I could toss together a little in advance, stick in the oven and have ready when people walked in the door.
That’s when I remembered Ruth Reichl. The former editor of Gourmet magazine, she still writes about her food life on her blog, www.ruthreichl.com. Sometimes, she writes about fancy restaurants, and sometimes, she shares food tips that aren’t fancy at all.
She recently ran a crazy-simple appetizer of toasted bread with cheese and bacon. Crazy-simple, but so good, they used to serve it at parties at the magazine. It’s great for a crowd, because you can size it up or down. Just use roughly equal amounts of chopped bacon and shredded cheese.
It makes your whole house smell like cheese and bacon, so people get in a good mood as soon as they walk in – even if you ran out of time to vacuum.
Bacon and Cheese Toasts
Adapted from www.ruthreichl.com.
5 to 6 slices bacon
1/4 to 1/2 pound white cheddar, shredded
1/2 small onion or 1 shallot
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, well-drained
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
9 to 12 slices very thin white bread, such as Pepperidge Farm
USE a sharp knife to chop the bacon into small pieces. Place in mixing bowl and add the shredded cheese. (They should be about equal amounts.) Peel and mince the onion and add to the cheese with the horseradish, salt and pepper. Mix it all together well.
PLACE the bread on a shallow baking pan in a single layer. Spread the cheese mixture on the pieces of bread, dividing it all evenly. Place the tray in the freezer for at least 15 minutes, or up to a couple of hours.
REMOVE from the freezer and cut each slice into quarters, placing them back on the baking sheet. (Reichl suggests trimming the crusts, but I left them.) Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for about 20 minutes, until everything is melted and bubbling. Serve warm.
Yield: Enough for 6 to 12 people.