We love living in Plovdiv. Everyone we talk to loves living here, and everyone who doesn't live here, loves visiting. You'll have to come see us to know what we mean :) The only thing that might make it slightly better is a Starbucks. Especially when eating banitsa, the renowned Balkan cheese pastry.
It's a great breakfast item, delicious for dessert, or just as a snack. As promised, here is Joy's Bulgarian host mom's recipe... although, you should know it calls for rather unique ingredients.
Also, take note that the measurements are estimated for two reasons:
- Here in the Balkans, people just know how much to put in a dish to make it come out just right. Meaning, Joy watched & wrote down what she saw Mama Zdravka put in.
- Converting from metric to US measurements is always quirky, right?
Mama Zdravka's Banitsa:
15 oz. "sirene" or goat cheese (i.e. feta cheese)
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tsp. baking soda
18 oz. phyllo pastry
Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. In medium bowl, combine eggs, cheese (crumbled into small chunks), sugar, and baking soda. In a small bowl, pour one cup of vegetable oil, and get out a soup spoon; keep oil out, as you may need more.
Unfold phyllo pastry & place one sheet flat in a 9 x 13 dish. It's ok if the phyllo sheets fold over (if they are too big for the 9 x 13 dish). Drizzle 2 spoonfuls of oil over pastry. Then evenly drizzle the egg/cheese mixture over the pastry, not covering the pastry. Meaning, a couple good-sized chunks in each serving. Hope that makes sense!
Continue with the above layering until the phyllo + egg/cheese mixture is no more. Drizzle oil over the top phyllo layer, to keep it from burning.
Bake for 20-25 min or until top of banitsa looks like the picture above! Let it cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
It's so fun to taste Bulgarian culture! Hope you enjoy it just as much as we do!
Oh, and, Sofia has a Starbucks, so we're hopeful about possibly getting one in Plovdiv... to get one in the next two years isn't too much to ask, right? :)