Blue cheese and apple spread on cocktail rye

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Makes 12 sandwiches (4 servings)

Serve these little open-faced appetizer sandwiches on cool evenings when the robust flavors seem especially appropriate. For a simple lunch or dinner, pair them with tomato soup and a green salad tossed with a light vinaigrette.

For the bread

12 slices of cocktail rye bread

For the topping

½ cup cream cheese, at room temperature

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

½ cup diced red-skinned apple

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped walnuts, preferably toasted

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon)

 

To prepare the bread, adjust the oven broiler rack to 4 to 5 inches from the heating element; preheat the broiler. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet; broil until the tops are firm, about 2 minutes.

To make the topping, stir together the cream cheese and blue cheese in a medium bowl; take care not to mash the blue cheese. Gently stir in the remaining ingredients.

To assemble the sandwiches, top each toasted bread slice with about 1 tablespoon of the blue cheese-apple mixture.

Serve at room temperature. If you prefer, broil the sandwiches for about 2 minutes, or until the topping is warm, then serve immediately.

Advance preparation

This topping will keep for up to 2 days in a covered container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature and assemble the sandwiches just before serving.

Variation

Substitute ½ cup halved red seedless grapes for the apple; serve at room temperature (do not broil).

Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.