There is no set recipe for this dish, it’s all down to how you like it.
Firstly let me explain something about gibanica (gib-an-it-sa). It isn’t eaten as a main course or a starter. It’s rarely eaten with anything else, although it seems some like it with a bit of sour cream. It’s normally served all by itself, either straight after the main course at a slava or other big sit-down meal; or just with a coffee, followed by a piece of walnut torte or figs and yoghurt.
I didn’t like it as a child – or rather it didn’t like me -eggs and cheese didn’t agree with me. I make it now and then, when the mood takes me. And each one is different.
What you need:
1 large round enamel tevsija. You don’t have one? Then any good-size oven dish will do – a deep one.
1 packet of fresh Greek or Turkish filo pastry – but you will only need to use half the sheets.
Alternately make your own filo! Just a good plain flour, warm water and olive oil – plus patience and working by the feel of the dough. I used to make it with my mother and stretch it over the dining table.
Anyway, let’s carry on.
Pre-heat the oven to pretty hot.
Take a large bowl and in it crack 8 medium-size eggs
Whisk them and add a little salt.
Add approx 250g of butter or margarine or olive spread
Add 250g of cream cheese low or full-fat
Grate approx 300g of a white crumbly cheese like wensleydale into the bowl
Add around 500ml of milk semi-skimmed or skimmed
Now gently break up the butter and cream cheese in the mixture,whilst stirring round the crumbly cheese and milk. What you should have is a lumpy mixture, not too runny. Taste it, it should be slightly salty.
Oil the base of your oven dish and take two sheets of filo. Place them in the bottom all scrunched up like a range of mountains with peaks. Ladle over some of the mixture.
Put on the next two sheets in the same manner and repeat the ladling. Eight sheets are usually enough. The last two go on top -all the mixture should underneath them.
Take a sheet of greaseproof paper and place on top. Sometimes I line the dish with paper as well.
Pop the gibanica in the oven for 30 minutes. It should rise. Take away the paper for the last 10 minutes to let it brown. The gibanica is normally done after 40 minutes -give it another five if you are not convinced.
I like my gibanica warm, some prefer it straight out of the oven, others stone-cold. Keep it in the fridge and it will last up to three days.
How much should you eat in one sitting? My advice is be sensible -it’s very filling even if you use all low-fat, skimmed-milk ingredients. I’m happy to have a piece for lunch followed by some fruit. A slice at breakfast? Yes, very decadent! It’s a great dish for guests when you’re not in a cake mood and you are savoury (like me) rather than sweet. Enjoy.