Thursday, July 18, 2024

School Pizza

This old school cafeteria pizza recipe captures the essence of everything that was good in the school cafeterias of our youth. (Cafeteria ladies not included.)

This fall was a real mom milestone for me. After 28 years of filming the first day of school with a picture every year, and then sending my girls to preschool, and kindergarten, and elementary school, and high school, and finally high school – for five times! – I faced the first day of my baby in senior year – and my last “first day of school”.

All but the youngest have gone to college, but as anyone who has done so will tell you, sending a child to college is a totally different experience than taking them to the first grade. Anyway, this rite of passage reminded me, and when I went online to update Em’s lunch account, I started thinking about the cafeteria and school lunches of my childhood.

I grew up in northeast Portland and attended the same elementary school from kindergarten through eighth grade; and in that time, I imagine I ate almost 1,500 meals in the basement cafeteria. Over two-thirds were “hot lunches.

If you like and miss old school rectangular pizza, here’s the recipe:
Half a sheet of bread and a line of parchment paper.
Crust:
2 ⅔ of flour
¾ cup of powdered milk
2 T of sugar
1 packet of fast growing yeast
1 teaspoon of salt
1 ⅔ cup of hot water (105-110 degrees)
2 T of vegetable oil
Stuffing:
½ pound of ground beef
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 8oz block of mozzarella cheese – shredded by yourself (To be a real school pizza, you will have to use imitation mozzarella slices)
Sauce (I make the sauce the day before)
6oz can of tomato paste
1 cup of water
⅓ olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
½ tablespoon dried oregano
½ tablespoons of dried basil
½ teaspoon crushed dry rosemary
The bark:
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Spray the pan with Pam and put parchment paper (Pam makes it stick)
In a large bowl – flour, milk powder, sugar, yeast, salt – whisk to mix
Add the oil to the hot water (110-115 degrees) – pour it into your mixture
Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is formed, don’t worry about lumps, you just want to make sure there are no dry spots.
Spread the dough in the pan with your fingertips until it is even. If the dough doesn’t cooperate, let it rest for 5 minutes and try again.
Bake only the crust for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Brown the meat until it resembles the crumbs. Set aside and drain the meat.
Remove sauce from pizza – partially baked crust, assemble:
Sauce-spread over the entire crust
Dusting meats
Sprinkle cheese
Bake at 475 degrees for 8-10 minutes until the cheese melts and begins to brown.
Remove from oven – let stand 5 minutes
Slice and dice!

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