Author Archives: The Rowdy Chowgirl

About The Rowdy Chowgirl

I am a Seattle-based food blogger.

Loud Stomping

Crocus

I woke up this morning to an irregular tapping and scratching on the roof.  I ran through my list of the usual suspects:  Rain?  Nope.  Roof rats again?  Ugh, I hope not!  Racoons?  Broken tree branch?  Alien space ship? The sound continued, surprisingly loud.  Curiosity finally spurred me out of bed and into shoes and coat.  As I rounded the back corner of the house, I had my answer.  It was a Steller’s Jay, hopping and pecking around industriously in the moss on the roof over my bedroom.  Such a loud stomping ruckus for a bird!

I have a flock of Steller’s Jays that live in my yard.  I suspect they nest in the rhododendron hedges as well as the tall pine trees.  They look like crows in blue jackets, and at least five or ten of them often strut and flit and chatter around the yard eating worms and doing whatever else birds do, very busily.

Steller's Jay

I’m not a lover of birds exactly and I only know that my blue flock is Steller’s Jays courtesy of my friend Linda, who identified them for me a few years ago.  But I enjoy their bright plumage and self-sufficiency.

I wouldn’t have said that spring is here.  It’s just as damnably grey and rainy as ever.  But maybe the jays know something I don’t.  Something has signaled the birds that today it is time to start picking at the roof moss and rootling in the rain gutters and they’ve been at it all day.

And while I was out there, I noticed that a few crocuses are up.  Crocuses aren’t so much a sign of spring as a reminder that eventually winter will be over.  There are stages to this thing and we’ve reached the last one.  The crocuses signal that we will need just a bit more endurance, but there is hope.

Crocus

IFBC 2013 My Favorite Session

IFBC 2013 Bordeaux Tasting

Without question, the Bordeaux wine tasting session was my favorite experience at the International Food Bloggers Conference this year.  Engaging speakers, fun tablemates, and free rein to pour our own “small pours” from the multiple bottles on our table–what’s not to like?  I learned a lot about how to taste, evaluate, and describe wine.

Oh, and the Bordeaux wines themselves?  I could describe them as fruity, floral, earthy, woody, spicy, herbaceous…but I think I’ll settle for yummy.

IFBC 2013 Lunch Frenzy

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Lunch time at the International Food Blogger’s Conference in Seattle.  We find a relatively quiet and zen-like corner of the room to eat and observe the crowd that flows like a school of…well, sharks actually, from table to table.  There is excited clustering, there is a little good-natured pushing, there are marshmallows, there is a lot of tasting going on.

The noise level and the temperature rise.

Finally, enough food is consumed for now.  Time for the wine tasting.

International Food Blogger Conference 2013

I’m at the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) today in downtown Seattle.  The weekend is just getting started but already I’ve scarfed up a delicious lunch, listened to a keynote address by Dorie Greenspan–who was, of course, sweet and funny, rootled through a bag of goodies, met up with a friend , met some new fellow food bloggers, paged through a luscious cookbook that is soon to be released, and maxed out my poor introverted self.

I’ll let you know what the rest of the weekend brings!
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International Food Blogger Conference 2013 Seattle

Asparagus and Caramelized Onion Tart

Asparagus Tart

There are hints of both the blessed and the accursed about some Sundays.  The good parts, of course, are obvious.  A day of worship for many.  A day of rest.  It is a day of sleeping in, and long breakfasts, and lolling and lounging and hot baths and long runs and maybe even a nap.  All good.  All very good.  But there is this whiff of despair in the air some Sundays, or maybe it’s just me, looking ahead and counting the dwindling hours of freedom and ease.  Instead of staying in the pleasant now of couch and cat and book I start doing mental arithmetic: this many hours until I need to get ready for work tomorrow, and then get to bed and then get up and go to work and oh, my week is going to be so busy, and I don’t want to go to work, not yet…and there I am, dreading Monday morning instead of living Sunday afternoon.  I’m sure I smell a whiff of brimstone in the air, possibly hear the echo of devilish laughter.

But you know what helps drive back the darkness?  A little time spent in the kitchen–not hurrying, just flowing with the chopping and stirring.  And then a good meal, like this summery tart. Yes, the leftovers will be good for lunch on Monday morning.  But don’t think about Monday while you are making it.

Asparagus and Caramelized Onion Tart

  • 1 shortcrust tart shell
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 15 oz whole milk ricotta
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • several grinds of pepper
  • small handful of fresh parsley, minced fine (1-2 tbsp)
  • 15-20 stalks of asparagus, ends trimmed
  • drizzle of olive oil

You will need a tart shell that is approximately 10 inches wide for this recipe.  Buy one, take one out of the freezer, or use your favorite shortcrust recipe to create one from scratch.  Whichever way, you’ll need it rolled out and pressed into a pan. Preheat oven to 350F.

Coarsely chop onion.  In a sauté pan or wok over medium heat, stir onions in 1 tsp of olive oil,  then cook very, very slowly until caramelized—at least half an hour, stirring occasionally.  Add a splash of water every now and then if needed to keep onions from frying/burning/overbrowning.  They are done when they are soft, golden brown, and smell sweet.

Meanwhile, prebake the tart shell for 10 minutes, then remove from oven.

Vigorously stir together ricotta, cream, egg, lemon zest, parsley, salt and pepper.  Pour into tart shell.  Top ricotta mixture with caramelized onions, distributed evenly.  Arrange asparagus spears on top of onion layer.  Drizzle very lightly with olive oil.

Place tart pan on a baking sheet and place in oven.  Bake for 30 minutes, then check periodically and remove from oven when ricotta is set, asparagus looks cooked, and tart is generally golden brown on top.