Perhaps it’s a reflection on me, or perhaps it’s a reflection on my friends, but the two things about which people seem to be most interested with respect to Bulgaria are Bulgarian food and Bulgarian women. For those of you interested in the former of these two subjects, you should appreciate this post. Following the lead of a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer, I’m going to do my best to post a new recipe for a Bulgarian dish once a week. So, if you like to experiment in the kitchen and try new things, here’s your opportunity to cook and taste some traditional Bulgarian dishes.
The first recipe is for banitsa (Баница), a traditional Bulgarian pastry. Banitsa can be made with spinach, apples, pumpkin, and various other fillings, but the traditional filling is a mixture of crumbled white cheese (сирене), whisked eggs, and butter. Every Bulgarian grandmother (БаБа) has her own recipe for banitsa, but this one is relatively straightforward.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease the bottom of a round pan with butter or oil. Take 2 or 3 pastry sheets (phyllo or filo) and brush with butter. Place sheets one atop the other. Spread 1/5 of filling (the number of sheets used will depend on their thickness). Roll up the phyllo sheets and put this little “snake” in the middle of the pan. Repeat with the remaining sheets and mixture, spiraling your way outward in the pan until filling the pan. Once the pan is full, brush the top with butter. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Ingredients for cheese filling:
pinch of baking soda
1/4 kg sirene or feta cheese
Beat eggs, adding baking soda, keep beating and add crumbed cheese until thoroughly mixed.
A pan of homemade banitsa.
A slice of banitsa.