Ivanka: Cabbage Rolls (Sarma) and Cheese Pie (Gibanica) for the Generations

The fact is, a family that cooks together, stays together.  Watching Ivanka make cabbage rolls that her  granddaughter Violet rolls is a living testament to how recipes pass through generations. From Serbia to Toronto, those cabbage rolls tell a story of new Immigrants settling into their new life and the melding of old and new world traditions.

The cheese pie was also delectable, but I think that had something to do with the butter.

Check out the video of Ivanka making Cabbage Rolls with her family.

Cabbage Rolls (Sarma)


  • 1 head of pickled whole cabbage (about 40 leaves)
  • 1 kilo ground pork
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 onions, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked rice, washed
  • 1 tbsp ground paprika
  • 1 tbsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 bay leafs
  • smoked pork, cubed (back bacon is good)


  1. Heat oil, sauté onions .  Add garlic and carrots and continue to sauté over medium heat.  Add meat until browned.  Add salt, pepper, paprika and rice, continue cooking for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and mix in parsley.
  2. Prepare a large stock pot by putting a rack in the bottom of the pot.  Taking one cabbage leaf at a time, fill with meat mixture and roll tightly.  Layer into the bottom of the stock pot.  As you layer the rolls into the pot, scatter with bay leaves and the cubes of pork.  Continue until all the leaves and meat are used up.
  3. Fill pot ¾ full of water and put on the stovetop on medium high until it boils, and then reduce heat to medium for 4 hours.  Monitor pot during cooking to not boil over or dry out.  If more water is needed, add boiled water.

Cheese Pie (Gibanica)


  • 1 package Filo leaves pastry
  • ½ kilo feta cheese
  • ½ kilo pressed cottage cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda or ¼ cup of club soda
  • ½ cup milk (optional, if needed)
  • 200g of butter, melted


  1. Crumble cheeses and combine.  Mix in eggs (reserving a bit of egg for the egg wash on top) and baking soda.  If mixture is too dry, add milk.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Butter the bottom of a casserole dish.  Layer filo leaves, brushing butter between each layer.  Every third layer, sprinkle cheese mixture.  Continue until dish is full or you’ve run out of cheese mixture.   Brush your leftover egg on the top layer of filo.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for another 30 minutes, or until top is nicely browned and the sides are a little bubbly.

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