It finally dawned on me why my mother might have made toasted cheese sandwiches, not grilled cheese. I’m guessing it was because of rationing during World War II. There wasn’t a whole lot of butter to lavish on a sandwich, so she leaned to prepare the sandwich the way I described yesterday — slices of American cheese on top of white bread, toasted in the broiler.
To confirm my suspicions, I got out my handy 1942 antique version of The Good Housekeeping Cooking (complete with its “Wartime Supplement”) and sure enough, there are, on pages 524 and 525, recipes for “Toasted Sandwiches” and even “Toasted Cheese Sandwiches - New Style,” by which they mean a kind of Welsh Rabbit.
There are several variations on the standard Toasted Cheese, including a panfried version and also one for the broiler. Here are two. They’re from long ago but still sound good:
Toasted Cheese with Cream Cheese and Orange Marmalade
6 slices bread
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Spread the bread with the cream cheese, then the marmalade. Place on a rack and bake for 5 minutes “or until they have crusty toasty look on the underside.” Makes 6
Or this one (you can substitute soy bacon or tomato slices):
bread slices (meaning white bread)
bacon (or use tomato slices)
Spread some butter on the bread slices. Cover with slices of American cheese. Lay 2 half slices of bacon top. Broil until cheese is melted and bacon is crisp, turning the bacon once.