• Nik Shipkov in his Devonport kitchen. : Rachael Hamilton

Beautiful Bulgarian Banitsa

My favourite recipe: Nik Shipkov

Many kitchens across the Shore, and the world, have a new addition this summer - The Devonport Village Cookbook.

A fundraising school success story to shout about for Stanley Bay School, this high-end hardback features 'food with feeling from local families'. With wine matches from Devonport-based International Master of Wine Bob Campbell and even a recipe from our local Olympian Eliza McCartney, the book has been flying out of local shops and from the book's own online store. For this issue, we grabbed a few words with one of the book's contributor's Stanley Bay dad and director of View New Zealand, Nik Shipkov. Nik and family supplied a family recipe, stunning photographed by Rachael Hamilton for the cookbook, which was printed by Channel's publisher, Benefitz. This spectacular creation is something different to wow guests with at home...

Channel Magazine: Where did this recipe originate from? 

Nik Shipkov: This is a traditional family favourite from Bulgaria, where my dad hails from. Our grandmother learned how to make this Bulgarian 'cheese pie' from our grandfather’s family.  She taught us how to make it.

CM: Can you share a memory associated with this dish? 

NS: Trays and trays of Banitsa were always rolled out on special occasions and big family gatherings - in part because it's actually a fairly easy dish to feed the masses but also, it was my mother's own way of connecting dad with a little slice of his childhood and reminding us kids of our own Bulgarian heritage.

CM: What makes it stand out to you as a favourite? 

NS: In truth, as a child my leanings were definitely toward the sweeter side of the pantry (see the donut recipe in the cookbook!) but as I've matured (that's debatable), I've come to appreciate this dish more and more. It's unlike any dish or meal that we have regularly so perhaps this is why this gets the favourite tag.

CM: Which other Devonport Village Cookbook recipe do you like the most, aside from yours? 

NS: I'm a sucker for all things pastry so there are quite a few that get my vote, but if I had to choose, the Cornish Pasties are the business, all washed down with a generous slice of the Lemon Coconut Custard Cake.

CM: If you could enjoy your dish with anyone, who would it be? 

NS: My family and friends without doubt, however it's always interesting to see other Bulgarians critique this version - so far there haven't been any complaints (or perhaps they are just being too polite).

Nik's Bulgarian Banitsa (Cheese Pie) Recipe: 

You’ll need: 

15 sheets of filo pastry

3/4 cup melted butter


For cheese filling:

4 eggs

Pinch of baking soda

1 x 200g packet of feta cheese



Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Grease the inside of a round glass pyrex pie dish with butter or oil. 

Beat eggs, add baking soda, keep beating and add crumbed cheese until thoroughly mixed.  

Take two to three sheets of filo pastry and brush with butter. 

Place sheets one on top of the other. 

Spread 1/5 of filling thinly across the entire sheet. 

Roll up the sheets and shape this roll in the middle of the dish. 

Repeat with the remaining sheets and mixture, laying the filo rolls down, spiralling your way outward in the tin until it is filled. 

Once the tin is full, brush the top with melted butter. 

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean (there should be no runny egg).  

Once cooked, cover with a clean tea towel to soften the filo.