This recipe is courtesy of Kristina’s Mum. Kristina was the poor Bulgarian lady who was thrown in the deep end….. she ended up having to work in my team. Not only did she have to put up with me, she had to put up with a bunch of Spaniards who, perhaps unsurprisingly, tended to talk in Spanish. She did a fantastic job and ended up being a valued member of the team.
Over the months we worked together we occasionally touched on the subject of food. She mentioned that Bulgarian recipes used “white” and “yellow” cheese. I feared something had been lost in translation, until I received a Bulgarian cookery book that used ingredients called”white cheese” and “yellow cheese”. If more proof were needed, relatively recently I had to go to the dentist’s for some treatment. To recover from the shock I went into a delicatessen near the dentist’s looking for something interesting to eat……. and found to my surprise that they sold Bulgarian white cheese.
Kristina also introduced me to a new herb, Summer Savoury. I must admit to never having heard of it before. I found I liked the flavour very much and often sow the herb in the garden, using it fresh or drying it for use at a later date.
Although I have many hundreds of business-related trips I only ever visited Bulgaria once, visiting the capital, Sofia. For those of you that think I was galavanting around the world, please be aware that I rarely saw the places I visited by day. As a business traveller I was rarely let out before dark…… and no, it wasn’t because I was likely to scare off the natives. In Sofia I managed to see the city and some of its impressive buildings, all beautifully illuminated by the street lights!
I do recall one fantastic evening though, spent with some co-workers in a superb restaurant that also had traditional local dancing displays. It was out of town, fairly high up and it had been snowing. The taxi rides up and back were actually uneventful in terms of prangs, and it must be said that with the wine we were more relaxed on the way back down, but I must also admit to a certain amount of apprehension at various points along the way. Let’s just say that their driving technique was a little unorthodox!
The food however was superb…. the best of all, perhaps surprisingly, was a delicious homemade bread stuffed with white cheese! I ended up eating my own, my neighbours’ and then asking for extra. I always find it hard to resist a good cheese……..
So anyway, back to the recipe for this week and that white cheese. As I said at the start, Kristina gave me her Mother’s recipe for Banitsa. I made it exactly as given and it was delicious. I have to admit though to having tweaked it before publishing here, sorry Kristina…….
I thought I would add in some of the Summer Savoury herb I mentioned earlier as it reminds me of Bulgaria. I also have enough tomatoes at the moment to “stop a train” as the Spanish would say. I make tomato sauce, I make ketchup and I also dry tomatoes. I decided to add in some chopped dried tomatoes too:
Cheese and Dried Tomato Banitsa
Serves: 6 to 8
1 tsp Baking soda
6 tbsp Flour
5 tbsp Olive oil
300g Bulgarian white cheese
8 Sun-dried tomatoes halves
1 tsp Summer savoury
75g Filo pastry Sheets
Beat together the eggs then beat in the yoghurt, baking soda, flour and vegetable oil.
Grate in the cheese and mix together.
Chop the dried tomatoes and add into the cheese together with the summer savoury and a good grind of black pepper. Mix everything together.
Butter a 22cm diameter round loose bottomed tin.
Spread the mixture on the filo sheets. It shouldn’t be too thick otherwise the filo sheets are difficult to roll.
Roll up the filo sheets and start to fit into the tin. Start on the outside of the tin and spiral in to the middle.
Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC.
Melt a little butter and paint the top of the banitsa.
Bake for about an hour or until the top is golden.
If you want to purchase “white” or “yellow” cheese, the white cheese is also called “Sirene” and the yellow is “Kashkaval”.
This recipe just uses the white cheese. If you can’t find any then a similar cheese might be something like Feta or a good crumbly Lancashire cheese.
Last week I suggested you try my Tomato Pasta Sauce. This time I thought I would remind you of the other recipe I published in the past to use up any surplus of tomatoes you might have.
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
1 inch – 25mm
Common Flour Types:
Gluten: 8% to 10%
Type: ES 70W
All-Purpose Flour / Plain Flour
Gluten: 8% to 11%
Type: DE 550 / FR 55 / IT 0 / ES 200W
Bread Flour / Strong Flour / Hard Flour
Gluten: 12% to 14% protein (gluten)
Type: DE 812 / FR 80 / IT 1 / ES 400W
2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge