At the beginning of April Ruth Reichl, famous food writher and the last editor-in-chief of the late great Gourmet magazine listed her 10 favorite recipes from her magazine years for Epicurious and I couldn't click on this link fast enough.

I really hope that as I comb through my massive stacks of clipped recipes from Gourmet magazine that I had the foresight to clip some of Ms. Reichl's favorites.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the recipe for Ian's Meatloaf published in 2008--I might have missed this one as most of my clippings are from the '90's and I am not sure how far into the 2000's my subscription went. For posterity here is how my adventure with this recipe went--a free form meatloaf with bacon and prunes in the mix--how could one not want to try this one. It does not disappoint.

I made the Bacon and Cheddar Toasts published in 2004--I made these as my appetizer contribution to Easter dinner. They were the hit of the entire dinner and here is how my adventures with this recipe went--that little bit of horseradish seals the deal.

Bacon and Cheddar Toasts

My son invited me for Easter dinner. I was in charge of appetizers and dessert. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to give this recipe a a try. They ended up being voted the "best dish" of the night by everyone who tried them. There were none left over. Ruth Reichl was right when she advised that once you start making these toasts you never stop making these toasts. 

This recipe originally appeared in Gourmet magazine in 2004. Here is the recipe as it appears in Epicurious.

Here is my interpretation.

Prepared 4/20/2019

Yield: 56 appetizers (it will depend on the bread used)


1/2 lb extra-sharp white Cheddar, coarsely grated (2 cups)

1/2 lb cold sliced bacon uncooked, finely chopped

1 small onion, finely chopped (1/3 cup) --I actually used a small white onion this time

1-1/2 TBS drained bottled horseradish (I used Inglehoffer thick and creamy style)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

14 very thin slices firm white sandwich bread (I used Pepperidge Farms extra thin white bread--I am so very happy that PF took HFCS out of all their products)


If you are making these right away: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. See note below if not.

Stir together cheese, bacon, onion, horseradish, salt, and pepper (I deviated from the original recipe here) I put all of these ingredients in the bowl of my food processor and gave it some pulses) I tried just mixing it in a regular bowl but I wanted a more homogenous blend that would be easier to spread. It worked much better to my tastes at least. 

Spread about 1-1/2 TBS mixture evenly to the edges of each slice with a small offset spatula (I really wish I owned a small offset spatula--they are cool but I don't so I made do with a butter knife). Arrange slices in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and freeze, covered with wax paper, until firm, about 15 minutes.

The original recipe wants you to trim the crusts off the bread and reserve them for another use--and I guess if you are throwing a fancy party--you go right ahead and trim and save (they are way too tasty to throw away)---I did not trim and the pieces with the little bits of crust ended up being the best bites anyway. Then cut each slice into 4 squares. Bake toasts on baking sheet until beginning to brown on edges, about 20 minutes.

I did the prepare ahead version. Note: Toasts can be prepared up to 2 weeks ahead and frozen, layered between sheets of wax paper in an air tight container. Thaw before baking.

I took them frozen and uncut to my son's house--we cut baked and scarfed them up. I will definitely make these again. And again. And again.


Ian's Meatloaf

Prepared April 30th, 2019

This very may well be the perfect meatloaf. It is good when in first comes out the oven but it just keeps getting better with age. It is huge so I have the last little remnant stored in my freezer I can't wait until it resurfaces. 

 Here is the recipe as it appears in Epicurious.

 Here is my version:

The recipe is enough for at least 6 servings--you will still have leftovers. :)


1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (2 slices of bread) I used my food processor to turn my Trader Joe's Canadian white bread into crumbs (I also made extra because I like to have bread crumbs on hand)

1/3 cup whole milk

1 medium onion, finely chopped (I used a purple onion as always)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium celery rib, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

2TBS butter (the recipe calls for unsalted BUT I always use salted butter)

2TBS Worcestershire sauce (I am so glad that Lea & Perrin's stopped ruining their "original" recipe with HFCS)

1 TBS cider vinegar

1/4 tsp ground allspice

2 tsp salt

1-1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 lb uncooked bacon (about 4 slices), chopped

1/2 cup pitted prunes, chopped

1-1/2 lbs ground beef chuck

1/2 lb ground pork (not lean)

2 large eggs (I used eggs from my brother's chickens)

1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

**Garnish** cooked bacon (for the record I did make this--I confess that I ate it while waiting for the meatloaf to cook!)


Preheat the oven to 350°F with rack in the middle. Soak bread crumbs in milk in a large bowl. Meanwhile. cook onion, celery, and carrot in butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic at the last so that it cooks but doesn't burn. Remove from heat and in Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, allspice, ***pet peeve alert** (here is where the original recipe lists extra ingredients not in the main ingredient list--yes it is only salt and pepper but it still annoys me-so they are up there now) salt and pepper. Add to bread crumb mixture. I added the eggs and parsley to the breadcrumbs at this point--trust me it makes it easier to mix with the meat this way. 

Finely chop the bacon and prunes in a food processor. I also strayed from the recipe here as I added this mixture to the ground beef and the ground pork and then I gently mixed the meat into the breadcrumb mixture with my hands. This way everything gets more evenly distributed and the less you work with the meat the better the end result.

Pack mixture into a 9x5 inch oval loaf in a 13x9 inch shallow baking pan. Bake until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of meatloaf registers 155° about 1-1-1/4 hours. I did not measure the temp-but if you are skittish about doneness of meat then it is a hefty thick loaf so you may want to check. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

I will definitely be making this again and again.

Hi! I'm Debbie. Here at Categorically Well-Read I give an extra layer to the reading life. Learn more about me, check out my current category of books, submit your own suggestion, or check out my latest post.