Ciao'd in front of the fire.


When it's rainy or snowy, gloomy and cold, I say let's throw New Year resolutions to the wind. Once you try a warm cheese toast, I think you'll agree. My grandmother made them for my sisters and me and we would devour them with teeny tiny glasses of red wine mixed with Sprite. This precursor to the ubiquitous avocado toast is honest and simple and, yeah, simply delish. 

Whether employed as an hors d'oeuvre at a cocktail party, an accompaniment to soup or salad, a protein-rich breakfast, or an afternoon snack, a warm cheese toast earns its keep. As that potato chip commercial says, "Bet you can't eat just one." After all, when we're old and gray, what will we remember? Our New Year diet resolutions or the small (edible) treasures in life. I think you know the answer.

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Old-fashioned yet somehow still appropriate, cheese toasts are timeless in their appeal. I like the trio of cheeses I call for in this recipe but feel free to adapt if you wish. Gruyere would be a nice substitute for the Fontina (they're both nutty) and Roquefort makes a nice understudy for the Gorgonzola. 

Serves 6

1 sweet baguette, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese such as Gorgonzola

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Brush the bread slices on one side with the olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake, turning once, until just beginning to become golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the oven and turn the bread slices so the olive oil side is face up.

Combine the cheese in a small bowl. Sprinkle the bread slices with the cheese, dividing it evenly among the slices. Return to the oven and continue to bake just until the cheese melts, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

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I’m pretty much halfway through my life and I can say without hesitation that one of my greatest accomplishments thus far is learning the art of watching football.  Natch, it comes second to the triumphs that are my sons and my marriage but not by that much. It was a hard labor, the football thing. 

I grew up in a family of five women (four daughters and my mom) with a dad who was not interested in sports except for...


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