Feta and Caper Tart; Braised Lamb; Dirty Dogs

Go directly to recipe

We had snowy white carpeting in our house in Minnesota: for 6 weeks.

Our house had been on the market for a year and the Realtor convinced us that, for it to sell, we had to rip out the old carpet and re-do the entire house in brilliant white.  We argued that new owners would tear up whatever carpet was in the house anyway (which they did), but we acquiesced. 

Other people told us to bury a statue of St. Christopher in the front garden.  I'm not certain which worked but we sold 6 weeks later.

Six whole weeks of living with a carpet so white that every speck of gnat crap was clearly visible.

I had not realized just how furiously carpets collected dirt and how ferociously the little fibers clung to it.

I swore to never have carpet again.

Rugs, yes.  They can be taken out, beaten, laundered, etc.  But no carpets.

Everyday, this time of year, I thank the powers-that-be that the original owners of our current house saw fit to tile the floors in roughly the same color as the clay soil it sits on.

It's damp, you see.  It doesn't rain but everyday the ground gets more and more water-soaked.  I don't know why; it just is.  Even the grass gets muddy. 

And we have dogs, you see.  As they are not toilet-trained they have to go out into the damp, wet garden. 

As they are dogs they want to go out and do stuff: chase bunnies and birds; sniff and dig in the holes left by moles and voles; bark at and chase the neighbor's cats and dogs.

All this activity tends to make their paws just a wee bit muddy.

All this activity makes them tired,so they want to come in and nap in the warmth.

After they rest they want to go out again.

Everyday I am on my knees giving thanks for our brown floors.  It's much faster giving thanks than scrubbing. 

If, and I say this hypothetically, IF I washed said dirty floors it would take hours for them to dry in the damp, and, by the time they were dry, they would be full of paw prints again.  You see why I am so grateful.

(For all you domestic goddesses with immaculate floors: Yes I have several rugs coming in to the house; Yes, I make them wipe their feet;  No, I can't make them wear boots – have you seen the size of my dogs?)

Instead of complaining about my floors a I should be sharing some of the new things I've been cooking.

First, the last picture of the season.  I just thought these tarts looked so cute sitting on the Christmas Tree plates.

I got the idea for this recipe from a post in early December by Laurie, of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.

Naturally, I couldn't be bothered to go back and look at the actual recipe.  Besides, she made proper tart, in a proper big tart pan.  I just wanted little ones for a first course.

Feta and Caper Tart 
  The feta the I use is Greek and comes in small cubes in a jar, covered with olive oil and herbs.

2 sheets filo (phyllo) doughFetatart
1 tbs crème fraiche
2 oz (60gr) feta cheese
1/4 cup small capers 
2 oz (60gr) smoked salmon
1 egg
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tbs olive oil

Cut salmon into small pieces.  Place 2 ramekins, 2 1/2 – 3" (6 – 7cm) on a baking sheet and set aside. Lay out 1 sheet of filo and, using pastry brush, lightly brush all over with olive oil. Fold the sheet in half, lightly brush the top. Fold in half again, the other way, so you have a small square. Brush the top lightly with olive oil. Pick the filo up by bringing all 4 corners together and carefully put inside a ramekin.  Smooth out the bottom a bit so it kind of lines the ramekin, leaving the 4 corners to hang over the edge. It should all be rather loose. Repeat with other sheet and ramekin. Divide feta and place in each ramekin. Divide and add capers and smoked salmon. In small bowl whisk together egg, herbs and crème fraiche. Divide egg and pour over cheese, capers, etc. Bake at 400F (200C) for 20 – 25 minutes. The corners hanging over the edges will get quite brown very quickly – don't worry, they won't burn (Or, at least, mine didn't) When done remove from oven and carefully remove filo cups from ramekins. Kind of wiggle, then turn upside down into your hand. Serve, garnished with a few olives and/or a bit more feta.

Phyllo Dough on FoodistaPhyllo Dough
To continue with the Med Mood here is a dish based on a recipe from one of my Spanish cookbooks:

Braised Lamb with Potatoes and Onions 
boneless lamb, shoulder or leg, pieces, 14 oz (400gr)
1/4 cup flourLambpotatoes
1 tbs paprika
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tbs olive oil
2 – 3 medium potatoes

In plastic food bag mix flour and paprika. Cut lamb into 1 1/2" (4cm) pieces and trim excess fat. Add lamb to flour and mix to coat well. Heat oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid. Add lamb (reserve any remaining flour) and brown on all sides. Slice onion; mince garlic. Remove lamb and sauté the onion and garlic until tender and starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with any remaining flour/paprika and stir well. Return the lamb to the pot, add herbs and stock. Cover, turn heat to low and braise for 30 minutes. Cut potatoes into 1" (2.5cm) cubes. Add to the pot, stir well and continue to simmer 30 minutes longer, until potatoes are done. If it starts to dry out add a bit more chicken stock or water. When potatoes are done, remove bay leaves and serve.

Now I have to go let the girl-dogs in.  Did I mention that Emma is a proper dainty girl?  She really doesn't like getting her paws wet and muddy.  Sedi, on the other hand, can spot a tiny puddle anywhere and actually splashes her paws in it…at Emma!  The bitch… (Well, she is!)

31 thoughts on “Feta and Caper Tart; Braised Lamb; Dirty Dogs”

  1. Happy New Year! And yes, I think it is always wise to have earth colored tiles, carpets and floors too. Now, if only it could be chic to have bits of leaves and twigs in carpet..

  2. Yikes, white carpet??? I’m terrified just thinking about it! The lamb stew is tickling my fancy today, though, as it’s cold and icy here in Rhode Island.

  3. I can’t imagine having white carpets! We have beige carpets, which I hate. We are hoping to put in some hardwood floors. I also hate carpets and love rugs.

  4. Your dogs are huge I can’t imagining trying to keep my floors clean with them around. Heck I have a hard enough time keeping my floors clean with a 4 year old and a 2 year old helping me cook. By the way the floors are clean about once a week.
    The feta tart looks great herbs, cheese and filo I have to say I just had to wipe the drool from my lips. And the tree plate is cute but I really like the blue one the lamb is in.
    Oh yes and there is no way I would put white carpet in even if it would improve my chances to sell. It wont because the housing market in Detroit is in the toilet but even if it did…Nope

  5. We have cream colored carpets with cats who like to eat the rabbits they catch in the night in comfort. In other words, smack dab in the middle of the living room. Blood and cream colored carpets do not mix. Light colored carpets and animals do not mix. I’m jealous of your floors!
    Katie, I’m so glad you liked my Caper Tart and that it inspired you to play with capers. They are so tasty!

  6. Feta, capers and smoked salmon in a crisp phyllo crust…mmm… The braised lamb looks both tasty and hearty.

  7. That’s a really beautiful tart! I’ve never thought of or seen a tart made that way. I love how it has edges that come down (if that makes sense).

  8. I once read a snippy comment by Terrence Conran regarding floor coverings that hid dirt. He said he thought one would want to see the dirt, so it could be cleaned up. To which I added, “Yes, but you have staff.”
    Oh, and the lamb sounds fabulous, Katie!

  9. I have two dogs as well. White no less. I’m thankful everytime I go to the dog park that they hate the water and mud!
    Your picture of the lamb and potatoes looks divine. I licked the computer screen but I wasn’t satisfied.

  10. Good heavens Katie, I’ve been dreaming of just such a tart! That is really beautiful!
    Love the way you write about your dogs 😉 and the carpet. Carpet it mostly just stupid. One of the craziest uses of wall to wall carpet I ever saw was in the bathrooms in the pediatric hospital where I worked in St Louis. I’d think that would rival your dogs on carpet!
    Sure wish I could send you some of my bread.

  11. The world would look perfect with a filo, caper and feta tart in hand. I’d sit back on my chaise lounge (if I had one) and let the dogs run rampant on my nice white carpet..not really but let me have my fantasies…

  12. All that stuff looks great Katie!
    I am loving that our new place is all done in earth tones, which inevitably, hides the earth that comes in with our shoes and whatnot. 🙂

  13. Ah, I went through the same thing when we sold one of our homes except not only was it the carpet, they told us to paint all of the walls!!!! Hey I did not want to remodel and spend tons of time and money on a house that I was moving out of…but we did. The new owners pulled up all of the new carpet and repainted all the walls! Only saving grace, besides selling the house, was the new owners gave us the newly pulled up carpet! They were going to install “White” and did not like the color I had so we got our new carpet back, in pieces! No worry, we used it in the basement of our new house! When we put down the new carpet we chose a brown color because the dog we had was an English Bull who had no manners at all! Now, I have tile and wood floors, no more carpet for me!
    Great story Katie!
    Those tarts are so great looking! Salmon and capers are a favorite of mine so I will be attempting these beauties!

  14. Lannae, I think that would be very chic indeed. I may just start a new trend!
    Lydiam it was so pretty – and sooooo awful!
    Pam, we have tile on the ground floor and wood upstairs. I’m equally happy with both!
    Thanks Margot! You too 😉
    Shayne, I’ve heard on Euro News how bad the Detroit market is; I hope you’re not trying to sell!
    Laurie, why do cats like to do that? When we had a cat there were always partially eaten ‘gifts’ laying around. And thanks for the inspiration.
    Thanks, Kevin. Smoked salmon are a great match with capers!
    Ashley, to be honest, I’ve ever seen one made that way either…. 😉 It worked…
    Thanks, scientist!
    Terry B. Yes, staff would make all the difference in the world. I still wouldn’t have white carpet…. But my house would undoubtedly be cleaner!
    Colleen, Emma it almost all white but she stays amazingly clean! The floor under her doesn’t….
    Thanks, Tigerfish – and to you!
    Tanna, carpet in bathrooms; carpet in kitchens, really, what do people think? Well, it wouldn’t work for me, anyway. I wish you could too!
    BelliniValli – can I join you in that fantasy? Can we be sipping something alcoholic with an umbrella?
    Deb, we put in the cheapest white carpet we could find – on top of an expensive pas so it looked decent. Like you, spending all that just to sell and have it ripped up really went against me.
    JennDZ, very practical! And how exciting to be moving into a new place? Have fun with it!

  15. Hi Katie,
    I back you 100% with the not scrubbing the floor. Makes sense to me 🙂
    I love phyllo tarts, especially the smaller versions that you made here. They always look so elegant. The combination of feta and capers is something I’ve not tried and it sounds declious.

  16. I don’t care if your floors are covered with dirt. You ARE a domestic goddess. Oh, that lamb looks so good, I am drooling.
    And, I love feta and capers together. Fantastic combination.

  17. the house next door has been on the market for a while and it is as much as what we got our house for 6 years ago and it theirs is bigger and much nicer and still no offers. We plan to rent out the house when we move to Europe until we can get something out of the house. Thank goodness we never took the equity out of the house.

  18. Bora, feta and capers are sooo good together. Add in the smoked salmon, and, well…..
    La Belette Rouge, As long as no one else sees my flours…I have better things to do! Thank you…(the lamb, in my humble opinion…very drool-worthy)
    Shayne, thank goodness, is right! I hope
    your neighborhood isn’t suffering. Renting it is a great idea!
    Toni, Exactly!
    Sher, with pets of any sort – or without… No more carpets for me!

  19. Katie,
    Even our little dogs bring in mud and dirt. Fortunately the dark color of our tiles hides it quite well. I sweep constantly, but there is always more hair and dirt hiding.
    Besides, I have better things to do, such as make that beautiful braised lamb dish that you’ve kindly shared!

  20. I have two medium/large dogs and, quite unfortunately, white carpeting (which joins with the white tile–previous residents must have liked to have a good view of all of the dirt they brought indoors). I feel your pain as there have been many a trail of footprints.
    But dogs aside, the tarts and the lamb look awesome. 🙂

  21. Lynn, I hear you on that one! It’s only about 6 months here….
    Jennifer, I have found that sweeping actually works much better than the vacuum – and with the amount of hair and dirt, cheaper too, sigh…..
    Mike, I have a friend in Florida whose entire house is white. I shudder just thinking about it. I’d rather not actually see the dirt myself, the head-in-the-sand approach works for me.

  22. I love the idea of the feta and caper tart. I have some friends who adore capers and I think this will be a perfect little way to start a dinner I’m cooking for them.
    Happy New Year!!

Comments are closed.

Share via
Copy link