New Year’s Eve, or Hogmanay as the Scots would say, is one of my favourite holidays. I love how we get together with our friends, family and close ones to celebrate the welcoming of the new year. Over the past few years, M and I have started a wee tradition of hosting a potluck NYE party for our friends. There is always plenty of drink to go around and a very full table with all sorts of food. We always kick off the festive buffet with a meat and a veggie main, a side or two and dessert, and our friends usually bring a dish each. You can imagine how much food we end up with!
It is also a Bulgarian tradition, that just after midnight we have a pastry dish called “Banitsa“. Each piece of the pastry includes a New Year “fortune” message and one piece also has a coin hidden in it. Whoever gets the coin will have lots of prosperity in the new year, and the ‘fortune’ is meant to give you an idea of what to expect in the new year. Despite the fact that I’m a great believer in “we make our own luck”, I still love writing messages of good luck and fortune and hiding them in the Banitsa. It’s always great fun reading them out and sharing what the new year will bring to us :D!
We made quite a lot of food on NYE, but I’m going to share the three best recipes below, including a traditional Banitsa recipe:
Serves: 12 | Time: 1:50 hrs | Difficulty: Easy, but requires a little effort
Tip: As the Pizza can be served just warm or at room temperature, you can make in advance (but on the same day). This is a great dish for a buffet, or for finger food. Also, I’m going to be making this when the summer comes as it’s a fantastic picnic food dish!
- Olive Oil;
- 2 large onions, sliced;
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed;
- 1 tsp dried oregano;
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes;
- 750g ciabatta bread mix (1 and 1/2 packets);
- 140g salami;
- 150g prosciutto;
- 1 small jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced;
- 4 balls mozzarella, thinly sliced;
- 20 pitted black olives, halved;
- 4 eggs, beaten + 1 egg for glazing;
- 50g parmesan, grated
- Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Add the oregano and chilli to the bread mix, then make up following pack instructions.
- While the bread is rising, heat the olive oil in a large pan. Cook the onions and garlic until soft and golden. Season and leave to cool.
- Roll out half the dough to fit an oiled 30 x 40cm baking tray. Layer up the onion mix, salami, mozzarella, roasted peppers, black olives and the prosciutto, making sure the mozzarella is evenly spaced. Mix the eggs and parmesan, season and pour over the ingredients. Roll out the rest of the dough to fit the top. Trim to fit then crimp the bottom edge over the top to seal.
- Glaze with the extra egg then slash the top 4 times. Bake for 50 minutes, covering with parchment if it gets too brown. Cool to warm temperature before cutting into squares.
I have grown up eating this in Bulgaria, where we refer to it as Russian salad. This is a fantastic salad which is easy to make and goes well with almost everything! My grandmother used to always serve this at family gatherings, usually as part of the starters and appetisers.
Serves: 12 (as part of a buffet) | Time: 30 mins | Difficulty: Easy
- 500g potatoes, peeled and halved, if large;
- 4 eggs;
- 1 large or 2 small carrots;
- 1 small jar cornichons;
- 1 small tin peas;
- 300g cooked ham, preferably a whole piece rather than sliced;
- 500g mayo.
- Boil the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes until they are just cooked (they shouldn’t be too soft). Meanwhile, hard boil the eggs – place in cold water over a medium heat and boil for about 10 minutes.
- While the potatoes and eggs are cooking, finely dice the carrots, cornichons and ham. Ideally, everything should be around the same size. Place everything in a large bowl. Drain and rinse the peas and add to the diced veggies and ham.
- When the eggs and potatoes have boiled, rinse under cold water to help cool them down. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggs. Dice both the boiled potatoes and eggs, and add to the rest of the ingredients. Start adding the mayo – around 300-400g first and mix well. Taste and add more mayo if necessary – everything should be well covered in it. Serve cold.
This is one of the most versatile dishes in Bulgaria. It is often eaten for breakfast, or as a snack, served as dessert (it can be made with a sweet filling), and it is traditionally featured on the New Year’s Eve table – filled with fortunes and charms for the new year. This is a recipe which includes a traditional filling of white cheese and yoghurt, but other popular fillings include spinach or squash for a sweet version.
Serves: 16-20 | Time: 30 mins | Difficulty: Easy
- 3 eggs, beaten + 1 egg for brushing;
- 300g feta cheese (or Bulgarian white cow’s cheese if you can find it);
- 450g yoghurt;
- 2 tbsp plain flour;
- 1 tsp bicarbonate soda;
- sunflower oil;
- 1 packet filo pastry, at room temperature;
- 50g butter, melted.
- Heat the oven to 180C fan. Beat the eggs with the yoghurt. Crumble the feta cheese into the yoghurt mix. Add the plain flour and bicarbonate soda, mix well.
- Brush a baking tin (size of the filo pastry sheets in length and width, about 30x20cm) with the sunflower oil. Crumble the first two filo pastry sheets and place at the bottom. After that start layering the pastry in the following order: pastry sheet, brush with a little of the melted butter, add another pastry sheet, pour some of the yoghurt and feta mix on top (don’t overfill it but make sure it’s well spread). Repeat until you run out of the mix, finishing with the yoghurt and feta mix if there is any left. If not, you can brush with a beaten egg.
- Bake for about 20-30 minutes, until brown.
- Leave to cool slightly and cut into squares.
I hope you all have a great start of 2018 and that perhaps you will be inspired to make some of these recipes, or at least try to cook some Bulgarian food at home! For more Bulgarian food inspiration, you can find three more recipes in my previous post.
Have a great year!