If I must work on a Sunday, this is how I like it, feet up on the couch, Misty sleeping beside me, flamenco guitar of Paco de Lucia in the background, hot tea in reach. From the corner of my eye, some motion out the window steals my attention. A large bird has just landed on a branch of the apricot tree outside the porch. I inch forward slowly, finding my cell phone and zooming the camera lens to get a good view. I think it's a Cooper's hawk, standing stock-still, just whipping his head from side to side occasionally with the snap of a flamenco dancer. As I ease open the front door and tip-toe off the porch he flaps up into one of the elm trees, with that powerful, lumbering whoosh that animals are wired to fear. I walk out into the middle of the yard, barely able to make him out in the high branches, though I'm sure he can see me. Like a hawk.
We didn't go out looking for nature this morning, but it made its way to us, big, bold and taloned. Misty slept through it all. I assume the hawk and she are too close in size to be much threat to one another, though I'm glad not have my theory tested; I'm sure his instincts are even more predatory than hers. She's still curled in her favorite spot up on the back of the couch doing her sleep-breathing, perhaps dreaming herself a lioness in the savanna chasing down a peregrine falcon: a feline moment of truth.
Mushroom and Caramelized Garlic Quiche
I made this from things we had in the house, but you can add caramelized garlic cloves to your favorite quiche or vegetable tart and let them steal the show. The instructions for caramelizing the garlic come from Yoram Ottolenghi's amazing cookbook, Plenty; I'm only the middle-person here, though this is a case where you might just want to kiss the messenger.
16 ounces crimini and button mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese
2 heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
¾ tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. chopped rosemary
1 tsp. chopped thyme, plus a few whole sprigs as garnish
1/4 tsp. salt
Sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned.
Caramelize the garlic, from Ottolenghi: “Put the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme and ¼ teaspoon salt. Continue simmering on a medium flame for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in dark caramel syrup.”
¾ cup heavy cream and/or milk
¼ teaspoon salt
Whip or whisk egg mixture until smooth.
Line a buttered 10" pie pan with the pie dough. Spoon on the sautéed mushroom mixture, then the gorgonzola crumbles, and finally the caramelized garlic with the remaining syrup. Pour the egg mixture over all. The garlic should be peeking up above the liquid. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 for another 10 minutes or until the filling has set and the top is golden brown.