SCHOOLBOY PIZZA

‘Both reassuring and nostalgic, as it ensures that the man I’ve become can still appreciate the boy that I was…’

I call this the Schoolboy Pizza only because it reminds me of the kind of pizza you’d get in the school canteen, but with a grown up twist. What I mean by that is, it’s flabby, sloppy and totally gives you authority to have it slathered in childish sauces and get it all over your face.

I was both a school dinners/ packed lunch boy and had even amounts of both, but every time I saw the pizzas in the canteen I would recoil because they would look like pieces of cardboard with pre grated cheese half melted on them. I had no time for it.

So in essence, this pizza is the kind of pizza I would have wanted at 13 years old but wouldn’t dream of ordering in a restaurant now… but I have no qualms in making it at home. It’s a variation on Nigella’s ‘Crustless Pizza’ taken from her 2010 cookbook (and my personal favourite) ‘Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home’, but I haven’t added cheese to the batter because I didn’t want it too heavy but I did add some thyme, just to give it a nice herbal note.

It’s the pizza of guilty pleasures of youth and mandatory maturity. It uses that old school plastic cheese that would never usually see the insides of my mother’s fridge combined with thinly sliced chorizo that I worship as an adult. It’s almost immediate to make and barely has a crust, allowing you to have the face slapping pizza moment you always desired as a child.

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Preheat the oven to 200C and lightly oil a small baking tray with curved up sides. You’re pouring your batter into this so be mindful it will take the shape of whatever tray you put it in. I used a pie dish. Beat an egg in a jug before adding a little salt and pepper to it. In a bowl, mix 100g plain flour with some fresh thyme leaves before adding the beaten egg and about 250ml of milk.

Pour this into your chosen dish before sliding in the oven for 30 minutes. You’ll see it will start to rise a little like a Yorkshire pudding but it only has one egg so it won’t rise too much and will fall so you’ll be fine. Now here’s the fun part and that’s preparing your toppings.

I went for a mixture of fake, plastic square cheese, sliced chorizo and basil which I threw all on top but you could go with goats cheese and mushrooms, pineapple and ham, spicy chicken – whatever you want. But I wanted to combine the flavours of the pizza of my youth (cheese and ketchup) with the palette I have now (chorizo and basil) to create a nice balance. After 30 minutes, throw your toppings on the pizza and throw back in the oven for 5 minutes.

It’s the kind of lunch I want when I’m not feeling up to doing anything except have a little fun and reminisce in the Kitchen. Some people see food as being nothing more than sustenance, and while that view is appreciated by myself, it is not shared. Food to me evokes emotion and there should always be a reason to cook, and using a mixture of both obviously vulgar ingredients with some reserved mature twists in this recipe was both reassuring and nostalgic, as it ensures that the man I’ve become can still appreciate the boy that I was.

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