1 pack of filo dough
1 lb Bulgarian cheese (or feta cheese)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup of milk or yoghurt
Mix the crumbled cheese, milk and eggs together. Don’t over mix – cheese should be lumpy. Melt the butter in a cup. Butter the bottom of a casserole pan. Lay 5-6 sheets of filo dough, one after another (not together) as you spread some butter in between – use a brush for this. Spread some of the cheese mixture on top, lay another 3-4 sheets, spreading butter in between. Repeat until all mixture is used. Lay the last 3-4 sheets on the top with no butter in between. Spread the rest of the butter on top. Cut in portion sized squares and bake in the oven until golden (about 30 minutes on 400 F).
Banitsa (banica and banitza) is a traditional Bulgarian pastry prepared by layering a mixture of whisked eggs and pieces of sirene (the Bulgarian cheese) between filo pastry and then baking it in an oven.
Traditionally, some kismets (lucky charms) are put into the pastry on some of the national holidays or other occasions – Christmas Eve, the first day of Christmas, New Year’s Eve, etc. They are usually small pieces of a dogwood branch with a bud – this symbolizes health and longevity. Other wishes include happiness, health, and success throughout the new year.