Banitsa

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Speaking of Banitsa!  The Bulgarian turn on a burek type of thing:  Light and airy cheese and yogurt filling in crunchy phyllo.  Though this obviously ticks off a lot of criteria, it yet far exceeded expectation, challenging not going for thirds!  These rolled burek, pita, etc. dishes used to seem far out of grasp, but now seem just as easy put together as the layered pies, and, in fact, just rolling the phyllo off the stack seems almost easier.  Certainly it avoids the unpleasant, loose and sometimes over-crisped edges of the pies.

We passed on the honey, this round — though, that’s an intriguing idea — and served it with the lutenica, which was an excellent match.

Honнеуреден.

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Banitsa
Serves 6-8

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 eggs
2 cups plain whole milk yogurt
3/4 pound feta, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
500g phyllo (1 lb box—Elka prefers size #7, but if you can’t find it use whatever your market carries)
1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted
1/3 to1/2 cup seltzer
Honey, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease 2 pie plates with 1 tablespoon each of olive oil, then dust lightly with flour and set aside.

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a whisk, then add the yogurt and whisk until smooth. Crumble the feta into the bowl, then add the flour, baking soda, and optional salt (leave out if your feta is extremely salty). Stir together.
  2. Combine 1/4 cup of olive oil with the melted butter. Dust a clean work surface with flour, then unroll the phyllo. Lightly brush the top sheet with the butter and oil, then spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in a line along the short side.
  3. Roll into a cigar, and transfer to the first pie plate. Beginning in the center of the plate, form it into a spiral. Repeat with the next sheet of phyllo, continuing the spiral until it fill the plate, and then fill the second pie plate.
  4. You may have some filling left over—if you do, divide it over the top of the two pie plates. Drizzle with any remaining butter and oil, then with seltzer—don’t drench the banitsa, just moisten it.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the banitsa is deep golden brown. Allow to cool slightly, then serve with honey.
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