Forever ago, when I was at art college, the school cafeteria sold thick slabs of cheese toast for a dollar. It was about all I could afford, which was convenient because it was also what I loved the most. Open faced grilled cheese. It reminded me of my mom’s tuna melts, minus the tuna, and my grandma’s hot dog melts on hamburger buns that would go all crackly in the oven. Cheese toast is perhaps as comforting as it’s possible to get. It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you need a recipe for – and yet it’s so much more than just cheese on toast.
Hy’s steakhouses are known for their old-school cheese toast. Again, it’s about all I can afford – and also mostly what I want. It arrives in linen-lined silver baskets and tastes the same wherever you go – they’ve had their formula since 1955, which is evident in the ingredient list: soft butter, grated cheese, Worcestershire. They add a pinch of white pepper, too.
Really, the secret is in the butter-cheese mix. The original recipe calls for Grana Padano, Swiss and orange cheddar; I used Parm, aged Gouda and old orange cheddar. It seems to me the sort of thing you could use up those cheese ends in the fridge for – with a glug (not too much) of Worcestershire for nostalgia’s sake. And to make a perfect pairing with a spicy Caesar. You’ll need some nice, slightly squidgy white bread too – I had a couple of Julia Child’s sandwich loaves on my countertop, which is I think why inspiration struck.
And because it’s fast – you could do it in the toaster oven, one at a time, and keep the cheese mixture in the fridge for future toasts – the timing is perfect if you want to heat up a pot of tomato soup on the stove. This is my plan at the first opportunity that arises.