The Hirshon Montenegrin Gibanica

The basic concept of Gibanica is common in the cuisines of the Balkans, Anatolia, and the Eastern Mediterranean. For example, a similar dish known as Shabiyat (Sh’abiyat, Shaabiyat) is part of the cuisine of Syria and Lebanon. Gibanica can also be considered to resemble a type of cheese strudel, with which it likely shares a common ancestry in the pastry dishes of the region, and the cuisines of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
This version is, of course, from Montenegro and TFD has modified the recipe to include an herbed and spiced version of the standard white cheese called Kajmak that adds a new layer of complexity to the flavor. I hope you will enjoy my version, firmly rooted in tradition but innovating in the manner of all TFD recipes, Citizen!

The Hirshon Montenegrin Gibanica

Ingredients:
       1 cup of organic plain whole milk yogurt or, preferably, kajmak with herbs (this is a TFD change to the recipe), made as follows:
       2 ounces cream cheese
       2 ounces (½ stick) butter
       2 ounces ricotta
       2 ounces full fat sour cream
       ½ garlic clove, minced
       ½ shallot, minced
       ½ tablespoon chopped parsley
       ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
       ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
       Salt
       black pepper to taste
Instructions:
1. Bring cream cheese, butter, ricotta and sour cream to cool room temperature. In a mixer or a food processor, combine cream cheese and butter and mix until fluffy and smooth. Mix in ricotta and sour cream.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix or process until thoroughly incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days.
       1 cup of organic raw fresh cheese (or feta, ricotta or other)
       2 cups of organic raw whole milk
       4-6 organic free-range eggs
       ¼ cup of organic extra virgin olive oil
       Some extra virgin olive oil for oiling the pan
       ½ teaspoon of unrefined sea salt (If your cheese is not salty)
       1 package of organic whole wheat phyllo pastry
       Sesame and caraway seeds
Mix everything except phyllo pastry in a large bowl (don’t have to whisk).
Oil a larger baking pan and lay 2 phyllo pastry sheets at the bottom of it.
Dip each additional phyllo pastry sheet in the prepared mixture and then scoop it out with a bit of filling and place it into the pan.
Do not worry about laying sheets in any particular shape or order as long as you fill the pan somewhat evenly.
Reserve 2 last sheets of phyllo pastry and 2-3 spoons of liquid from the filling mixture for the top. Lay those last two sheets on the top, tack-in the sides and moisten the top with the reserved liquid.
Sprinkle with sesame and caraway seeds.
Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes at 375 F / 180 C or until golden.

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