Fiddler's Favorite Recipes Episode 9: Bella Hristova’s Banitsa

April 8, 2020, 1:03 PM · What could be better than a Banista from Bella Hristova!

Bella Hristova and Banista

I met Bella over 10 years ago in New York. She is one of the most entertaining and fun people to be around - as you will soon see in this episode - and also an exquisite player. She has performed all over the world and was a recipient of the 2013 Avery Fischer Career Grant.

Here, Bella, surrounded by her feline friends, bakes us a Bulgarian treat. I can’t WAIT to try this recipe! I present "Bella’s Banista":

BANITSA

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet phyllo dough, thawed (for this recipe I used about 10 13x18 sheets)
  • 5 eggs (save 1 yolk for glazing)
  • 1 - 1 1/4 cup Bulgarian yogurt, or any plain yogurt
  • ~ 6oz feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups wilted chopped spinach (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Instructions:

  • Lightly whisk four eggs plus one egg white in a large bowl. Set the fifth yolk aside.
  • Add in the yogurt, salt to taste, baking powder, feta and spinach, if using. Keep mixing after adding each ingredient.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. A springform cake pan can also be used for shape (10”). Depending on the size of the phyllo sheets, you may end up with more or less rolls than this recipe.
  • Open phyllo packet only once everything else is ready. Spoon out a ladle of the mixture at the top of the long side of the phyllo sheets in a wide line. Brush the rest of the sheet with melted butter. Take the top two phyllo sheets and roll towards you. (Spraying with an oil spray as you roll is optional.) Once rolled into a log, place on cookie sheet seam side down, and roll into a tight spiral.

  • Repeat 3 - 5 more times with remaining mixture, connecting the end of the previous log with the new one, spiraling outward.
  • When finished, mix remaining butter with egg yolk and brush the top of the banitsa with the eggy/buttery mixture.
  • Bake at 375F for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown
    Let rest for a few minutes (the longer the better) and enjoy! Can be eaten hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold :)

Replies

April 8, 2020 at 11:28 PM · Bella, I love your bow to the Great British Baking Show in there!

April 9, 2020 at 12:00 AM · Thanks Laurie :) :) It's a little Easter egg for people who know the show - I absolutely love it!!!

April 9, 2020 at 12:14 AM · Bella Hristova! Back in November, I had the very good fortune to hear Ms. Hristova perform the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Reno Chamber Orchestra. It was truly one of the best performances of anything I've ever heard anywhere. Exciting! Electifying!

When the current misery is over and people are concertizing again, if you get the chance to hear her play, do so.

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