Monday, February 3, 2014

A Quintet of Cuisines: Banitsa

Banista is a traditional Bulgarian dish, usually made for Christmas or New Year's Eve, when they might contain a little token like the fêve in a French Three Kings' Cake. With filo replacing a hand-made dough, these are actually quite easy to make, with the preparation larged finished while the oven is heating.

Field was served a special, S-shaped banista. More common, judging by the images you find searching, is for the rolls of filled filo to be coiled into a springform pan, the resulting "pie" cut into wedges for serving. I made a half recipe since I had a limited amount of feta and filo, so I thought that wouldn't work for me, although I was probably wrong.

Feta comes in 200g packets, so I was a bit short on this for making a half recipe. Being in a lazy mood, I decided to zap the feta, yogurt, and egg in the food processor rather than crumbling, forcing through a sieve, and beating vigorously with a spoon. Meanwhile I dug out my pastry bag and assembled it with a 1/4" tip (rather than 1/3" as requested) since that's the biggest I have. The food processor was probably a mistake, though, since the filling was more pourable than pipable.

But I proceeded. I laid out each rectangle, buttered, folded, spooned what was probably about two tablespoons along the long edges, rolled, and formed into a figure eight. My half recipe made nine rolls, where eight would have been expected. My packet of filo had ten sheets, so I buttered and folded the last one, sprinkling with a bit of cinnamon-and-sugar mix that needed using up.

Twenty minutes in the oven and they were lovely and crispy. The cinnamon square looks a bit burnt, but wasn't really.

These were a nice accompaniment for soup-for-dinner. They'd also be nice finger food for drinks or on a buffer. We rather liked the rather tidy (for filo) single serving shape.

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