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Originally published September 29, 2009 at 2:59 PM | Page modified September 29, 2009 at 7:01 PM

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A Ruth Reichl favorite: Bacon and Cheddar Toasts

One of Gourmet Magazine editor Ruth Reichl's favorite recipes from her new book, "Gourmet Today: More than 1,000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen." (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40.)

One of Gourmet Magazine editor Ruth Reichl's favorite recipes from her new book, "Gourmet Today: More than 1,000 All-New Recipes for the Contemporary Kitchen." (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40.)

Bacon and Cheddar Toasts

Makes 56

Active time: 25 min

Start to finish: one hour

A refinement of a grilled-cheese and bacon sandwich, these treats are worthy of becoming a family tradition.

They're that easy and that good. Toasted, the trimmed crusts make decadent croutons or a "cook's treat" for nibbling.

1/2 pound extra-sharp white Cheddar, coarsely grated

(2 cups)

1/2 pound cold lean bacon (chilled bacon is easier to

chop), finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped

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1 tablespoons drained bottled horseradish

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

14 very thin slices firm white sandwich bread

Stir together cheese, bacon, onion, horseradish, salt, and pepper in a bowl with a rubber spatula until well-blended.

With a small offset spatula or butter knife, spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture evenly to edges of each slice of bread. Arrange slices in one layer on a large baking sheet, cover with wax paper, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375degF.

Trim crusts off bread and reserve if desired (see Cook's Note). Cut each slice into four squares.

Arrange toasts on baking sheet and bake until edges begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Cook's notes:

The unbaked toasts can be prepared up to 2 weeks ahead and frozen, layered between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container. Thaw before baking.

The reserved crusts (with some of the filling still on them) can be baked in a 375 F oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool, then break up the crusts and sprinkle over salads (or just nibble on them).

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