~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cheese Burek (or Placinta de Branza)...Cheese Filled Phyllo Pie.

Cheese Burek (Placinta de Branza)...Cheese Filled Phyllo Pie. This recipe is so easy and so delicious...seriously! I guess the cheese burek(borek) recipe originated from Turkey. Although many other countries have made variations to it, they all use the thin flaky dough or phyllo as their base. Some variations include a meat filling, others include a vegetable filling, while still others are just cheese filled. The Greeks have the traditional spanakopita, filled with spinach. In Bosnia, the cheese filled one is called a sirnica.

This has got to be my dad's favorite, though. He often requests my mom to make it for him. My dad often remembers eating this type of cheese pie( placinta de branza ) in Romania, at bakery shops, called 'Placintarii '. He would stop by a bakery shop and buy a piece...it was very fresh and very good. You could get a piece, however big you wanted...they would cut it, place it on the scale, and weigh it for you. People would buy a piece and have it with a cold glass of beer or buttermilk/kefir. And because my dad liked the cheese pie so much, my mom started making it at home.

She came up with this recipe on her own one day. She made it using lots of feta cheese, some buttermilk, eggs and such. But one day, because she didn't have enough feta cheese, she added some cottage cheese. The result was perfect and we all liked it that way. Since then, my mom has perfected the recipe over the years. She would always make this when we had unexpected guests...it came together quickly and everyone loved it!

After I got married, my husband had the chance to try the placinta cu branza for himself. He just loved it! He used to have the placinta cu branza only when we would go visit my parents....warm, right out of the oven... and made by my mom. Recently, I decided to make it at home by myself. My husband's first reaction was, "It's just like Mom's!" I knew it was a winner... so, thank you mom! The cheese burek(or placinta de branza) is great as an appetizer...just cut them in smaller pieces. You could also serve it as a light meal with a simple salad. I am hoping you will give this recipe a try...it's so good, that you will feel like eating the whole pan:). Hope you enjoy...

Note: You can skip the buttermilk and flour if you like... also make sure the cheese pie is cooked until it puffs up and nicely golden  all around... if you under bake, there's a chance for the pie to be too "wet".

You will need:

Cheese Filling:
24 oz cottage cheese (I used low fat)
4 ex-large eggs, beaten
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled*
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 heaping TBS flour
* if you like yours a bit saltier , increase the amount of feta cheese

Extra ingredients:
1/2 package phyllo dough
1/4 cup butter, melted ( you might need a bit more)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1. In a large bowl mix all the cheese filling ingredients.

2. Butter the bottom of a 13x9 glass baking pan.

3. Lightly butter  a phyllo sheet and place in pan. Repeat until you have  5 phyllo sheets buttered and layered.

4. Take about 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture and spread it all over the phyllo dough.

5. Lightly butter and layer 5 more phyllo sheets and place them on top of the cheese mixture. Pour another cup and a half of the cheese mixture. Repeat layering of phyllo and cheese mixture ending with phyllo dough on top....sort of like layering a lasagna dish. You will use about 20 sheets or 1/2 of the phyllo dough package.

6. Butter the top of the phyllo dough. Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 40-50 minutes or until nicely puffed and golden brown.

7.Let cool slightly, cut and serve warm.

The pie will deflate somewhat....that is normal. Enjoy with a nice cold glass of buttermilk, with a salad or as an appetizer.


Sailaja Damodaran said...

very tempting...nice party dessert

Ana said...

It is lovely. I know exactely what youe father remembers. Placinta cu branza was one of my favorites and I could never resisted, bought one every time I passed by Placintarie. Thanks for the receipee, it works well with meet too. It goes well with a cold beer! Merry Chrismas!

Ellie said...

Thanks for stopping by...I hope you like this recipe. I haven't tried it with meat, but I bet it would be delicious. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!~Ellie

Simona B said...

Nici nu sti decind caut reteta pentru placinta cu brinza, multumesc!!! Noi mincam plainta asta aproape in fiecare zi cind ieseam de la cursuri!!!

Ellie said...

Simona B.
Ce scumpa esti! Asa de bine imi pare ca iti place placinta!...Iti multumesc ca mi-ai scris, ca mai bucurat:)~Ellie

Anonymous said...

Am dat la intamplare pe Google"cozonac" si ai aparut tu. Multumesc ca iti faci timp sa impartasesti retete romanesti.Chiar am sa dau site-ul tau cumnatei mele(locuiesc in USA),careia ii place fff mult mancarea romaneasca si mereu trebuie sa ii traduc retete:)Ma ajuta si pe mine,ca retetele sunt facute cu ingrediente din SUA si acum stiu ce sa caut:)
Multumesc inca odata!

Ellie said...

Anon, Thank you so very much for your sweet comment! It was especially nice of you to take the time to say thanks: I appreciate it! I am so glad I can be of help...even if you like just a single recipe from here....it would make my day:). Feel free to come by again:).

Have a great day! ~Ellie

Ioana said...

Am cautat reteta asta de ani de zile si acum am gasit-o, in sfarsit! Multumesc tare mult!!! Am facut placinta acum, de Craciun si a iesit exact cum mi-o aduc aminte de la placintarie! Ce amintiri frumoase au evocat... Multumesc din suflet!

Ellie said...

Ioana, M-am bucurat tare mult ca ti-a iesit placinta de branza ...si mai ales ca ti-a si placut:). Este favorita noastra placinta de branza...si totul datoresc mamei mele. Nu este greu de facut dar cand se coace da o aroma asa de placuta in toata bucataria...si abia astepti sa o mananci:).

Imi pare bine ca ai trecut pe la mine...si ti-ai facut timp sa imi scrii. Am apreciat tare mult! Multumesc si iti doresc o zi placuta. ~Ellie

Anonymous said...

Hi Ellie,
Multumim de retete si iti dorim un An Nou Fericit! Vreau sa te intreb daca foile de placinta se pot da cu butter spray in loc de unt...cred ca ar fi mai light. Si ce zici si de niste marar in combinatia de branza? Gaby

Ellie said...

Gaby, Multumesc mult pentru urari. Sa sti ca acum am inceput sa numai pun unt pe foi asa mult....doar ung tava ca sa nu se lipeasca. Apoi ung ultimile doua foi deasupra. Foile din miljoc ny le mai ung cu unt caci ese foarte bune. Si sa fiu sincer, din cand in cand inlocuiesc untul cu olive oil:)
Cred ca ari merge foarte bine cu butter spray...eu nu folosesc. Si daca iti place marar are fi excellent sa pui dupa gust. Sper sa iti placa si tie placinta, asa cum ne place si noua:).
It doresc o zi placuta si iti multumesc ca ai trecut si pe la mine

Alina---Explora Cuisine said...

Imi place tare mult placinta ta, si chiar daca am modificat niste lucruri la cum am preparat-o eu, mi-a iesit tare bun, multumesc pentru inspiratie, am postat-o pe blog la mine, daca vrei sa o vezi: http://exploracuisine.blogspot.com/!!! Nu pot sa iti spun cat apreciez retetele pe care le faci, cata rabdare poti sa ai sa le faci, te admir sincer!

Ellie said...

Explora Cuisine, Ma bucur mult ca ti-a placut si tie placinta:)!
Apreciez mult ca ai trecut pe la mine si mai ales ca iti place retetele pe care le postez:) ... sper sa mai gasesti alta reteta care it place:).
Numai bine, Ellie

Jeannie Oldja Shima said...

Love this blog! This is just the way my mom makes it! ;o)

Ellie said...

Jeannie, Thanks! So pleased you are enjoying it!...and thanks for stopping by.
Have a great day!

~Ana~ said...

Oh my gosh i am so excited to try this again! I haven't had it since I was a kid living in Romania. It's hard to remember a lot of recipes because i was so young when i left.

Keep the recipes coming, I am getting my american parents to try them all!

Ellie said...

Ana, I'm hoping you will enjoy this recipe...it is one of our favorites!

Thanks for stopping by...and hope the recipe brings back wonderful memories for you... and new ones for your parents:).

Liz said...

Hi Ellie, Your site just keeps giving me wonderful new recipes. I had lived in Turkey and brought a recipe for spinach borek back. I combined it with your cheese borek recipe and have a lovely variation on spinach borek. As an extra bonus the kids like it too.:)

Ellie said...

That's wonderful, Liz! So glad you came up with a recipe that works for you and your family. I think it's wonderful to be able to combine ideas and recipes...and make something that works for you. I do that all the time:) Glad I could be of inspiration:)...love the idea of adding spinach as well.

I am excited for you that the kids love the version you make....it's always nice to be able to find a dish that both adults and children enjoy.

Thanks so much for stopping by... I so appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback and for your kind words. It means a ton.

Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this recipe!! My MIL is romanian and I think she does not want to share her full recipe bc she always seems uncertain about it. lol So I am happy to have found this and will try it out.....she sprinkles white powdered sugar on the top of the "cheese pie," after it comes out of the oven! Delicious!

Ellie said...

Anon, You are welcome! You know, I've never tried sprinkling powdered sugar on top.... maybe it's because I didn't grow up with the top sugared. But I rather like the idea... I think it will make it extra special and more of a " cheese pie" . It's definitely worth trying, so thank you for sharing the idea and for stopping by.
Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

I tried this recipe today step by step, very Disappointed the recipe calls for to much cottage cheese and with the extra tangy feta cheese, the recipe is a mouth full of sourness.... For people who love x x x mature cheese this is great, but those who prefer a Sutle cheese tasting palate, this is not a good recipe. I had to throw half the borek away as ,y family who love cheese, found it extremely over powering..

Would rate this out of 5 a merciful 1 star

Ellie said...

Anon, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback. I have no idea why the cheese burek tasted "sour" to you.
I've made this recipe numerous times and do not find it "sour"... it's actually pretty mild.... even children like it. Having said that, maybe it's the type of cheese you used? maybe the cheese you were using was getting old and caught that "sour" taste?

I'm not sure... maybe it's just the palate. You have to enjoy feta cheese, and not everybody does. It doesn't compare to mozzarella cheese which is quite bland. But we all have different tastes and I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it... glad you didn't throw it all out and still ate half:).

Bobbie said...

Ellie, it's in the oven as we speak. I spent several weeks in Romania back in 2006 and fell in love with both the people and the cuisine. I have literally craved this dish for 7 years, and finally decided I wouldn't rest until I found one posted in English on the Web. I can't thank you enough for sharing this!! One question... When you say to butter 5 sheets of phyllo, do we butter each individual sheet or just the top of the stack of 5? Thanks again!

Ellie said...

Bobbie, Oh, I sure hope you enjoy it! Glad you were able to go visit Romania and got the chance to experience the culture first hand. Now, I'm not sure if this cheese pie will be like the one you remember, but I hope you enjoy it, as it is our favorite. My husband can't get enough of it:). The thing to keep in mind is to bake the pie until nicely puffed and golden, otherwise the pie can be too moist and not cooked through.
I butter each of the sheets individually... sorry about the confusion, I'll make sure to edit it to make more sense. Though I have to say, I've also made it where I skipped the buttering and only buttered the top sheet... it still works:) though it's tastier and much better when you butter each individual sheet:).

Lia said...

I am half Romanian. I grew up with all of these foods. I have never attempted to make Placinta because I remember my Mom and aunts making the dough for hours. They would make it, pat it out in circles, put it all under the duna (featherbed) to keep it warm and then bring it out, put oil on it and start stretching and stretching and stretching, easy and slow so as not to break it. They stretched until it covered the whole table and it was paper thin. Then they would put the filling all alone one long edge. Sweet cherries or apples/cinnamon, and of course the cottage cheese. They would then roll it all up until it looked like a long snake and put it into a baking pan in a long s shape. We loved this stuff as kids but especially at New Years when my Mom and dad would was nickels, dimes and quarters and put it into the Placinta. We would eat it until we were sick to see who could find the most money. Everyone is gone now but I have never attempted to make this as much as I miss it from my childhood as it seemed so overwhelming to me. Thank you for posting this very simple way of making this dessert. Now I can go ahead and try it.

Ellie said...

Lia, Thanks for sharing your memories. Loved reading the details to the making of PLACINTA. Looks like your mom and aunts were making the strudel dough from scratch, which means they were amazing bakers:)!

This version uses store- bought dough, it won't touch your mom's, but maybe it will bring some memories of your childhood. I sure hope you enjoy the recipe.

Thanks so much for stopping by... it was good to hear from a fellow Romanian:).

Ilona said...

Thanks So Much for the Wonderful, easy placinta recipe! Ive been in the US for a year and have been craving my national Moldovan food a lot! Your recipe is great! Loved cooking the Placintas!

Ellie said...

Ilona, You are most welcome:). I just made some placinta for my husband, a couple of day ago:)... it is a favorite for us.

So glad you liked it... and that it brought a bit of home for you.

Thanks you for your feedback and for taking the time to write. I hope you will be able to adjust here in the states. At least you can always make placinta... to help ease the homesickness:).

Anonymous said...

I tried this recipe today as I was craving a cheese Borek I had once may years ago and you have honestly delivered a gem of a recipe that took me back to my first Borek. I can't thank you enough, this recipe has taken pride of place in my recipe book. A

Ellie said...

Anon, Oh, that's wonderful! Yay. I'm SO thrilled you enjoyed one of our favorite cheese pies.

It means a ton that I could be of help... to bring back memories for you in actual food form:).

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. It simply made my day! Enjoy the borek:)!

Anonymous said...

I fell in love with this dish when someone brought it to a work function. I couldn't stop thinking about it to be honest :) so tonight I ran and grabbed the ingredients ....it's in the oven as we speak :). Thank you for the recipe, I'm sure it will taste wonderful.


Ellie said...

Shera-Lynn, You are most welcome... so glad you tried the recipe! I hope it was just as delicious as you remember it:).

This is one recipe I like to play around with... I will substitute the buttermilk with sour cream or yoghurt... sometimes I even add some cream cheese I may have lying around and thin it out a bit with milk. Maybe I will also sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on top for a crisp topping. But it's always a recipe we enjoy:).

Thanks a bunch for stopping by and sharing. I really appreciate it!

Rachel Toth said...

I Think I might acurally make this! I love buruk but have never made it. Thank you for sharing. PS> I love the song to the right: BOW THE KNEE
There are moments on our journey following the Lord
Where God illumines ev’ry step we take.
There are times when circumstances make perfect sense to us,
As we try to understand each move He makes.
When the path grows dim and our questions have no answers, turn to Him.

Bow the knee;
Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee;
Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King, bow the knee.

There are days when clouds surround us, and the rain begins to fall,
The cold and lonely winds won’t cease to blow.
And there seems to be no reason for the suffering we feel;
We are tempted to believe God does not know.
When the storms arise, don’t forget we live by faith and not by sight.

Ellie said...

Rachel, Thanks for stopping by.... I sure hope you can give the burek a try. We love it:)!

So glad you've been blessed by the song... all glory be given to God! Even when we are going through trials... God knows what we need of:)... how good to trust Him!

Mrs. Geagla said...

Thank you for posting these Romanian recipes! I for one have never made chicken with dumplings, but seeing your recipe gave me the courage to try it. I still have to work on it but they were not bad...
Today I'm trying Placinta cu brinza. As one who is originally from Constanta and grew up with suberek and the likes of Macedonian and Turkish cuisines, miss Placinta a lot!!!! I've made it many times here but never with phyllo dough. Today's the day!
Hope you keep adding recipes and know that people are enjoying and using them!

Ellie said...

Mrs. Geagla, Thank you for your kind words... and for taking the time to stop by and share. I am thrilled to hear that you tried the chicken and dumplings recipe... the dumplings can be a bit finicky, but you can , as another reader suggested, opt to use "mamaliga" instead.

I sure hope you enjoy the placinta cu branza... we love it:). Just make sure you bake it long enough, so the filling will be firm and not so soft... and allow it to cool a bit before cutting in.

Again, thanks for your encouraging words.. I really appreciate it:)!

Sabina said...

My mom gave me the recipe years ago. Hers doesn't call for buttermilk, but it wld be fun to try that. She is Romanian from (the former)Yugoslavia. Her Burek had many layers but heavier than the philo dough. As a shortcut, she discovered "lavash", the middle eastern flatbread and thought she cld substitute it for the dough. Sure enough, much closer to the Burek she used to make. You still need to butter the lavash, it's available at many stores, even Trader Joes. Give it a try and see if it takes you one step closer to Romanian Burek. ��

Ellie said...

Sabina, Lavash? What a great idea! I never thought of using lavash in place of the phyllo... I could easily see it working incredibly well. I suppose it would mimic the idea of using the homemade dough most often used in burek. I know the phyllo dough is the easy way out:).

Thank you for sharing. Love your tip... will just need to find a market here in MT that sells the lavash and try it out.

Again, thanks for stopping by and sharing. I really appreciate it!

Dana J. said...

I love, love, love this kind of food. And so do my kids. I make it with dill and feta, home made sweet cheese and raisins, ground beef, even cabbage. My mother made it from scratch, no phyllo dough in our house, she made the most amazing see-through dough I have ever seen. I only made it once and decided that I will pass on making the dough. For a while anyway. :)) I bought in the store in Detroit a turkish type of dough, it's called yufka. Thicker than a phyllo but thinner than lavash. Not bad I must say. I remember the days in my hometown when we went to "lacto-bar" for placinta greceasca cu carne sau branza and a big glass of sour milk. Ah, si merdenele.
Have a wonderful day!

Ellie said...

Dana, It's amazing to me how varied our recipes can be... from family to family:). I love your idea of changing an otherwise cheese burek to one that can contain beef and even cabbage. Sounds delicious!

Never heard of yufka, though I can see how similar it would be to a lavash or even a thin tortilla of sorts. I think your mother might have made a version of a strudel dough to account for the thinness found in phyllo. Nowadays we opt to use what is easier, but boy, the placintas made from scratch entirely has got to be the most delicious:).

Thanks for sharing your memories:)... and for stopping by!