Tilth Restaurant

Food Arts
August 28, 2008, 11:32 am
Filed under: In the Media, Recipes

Tilt was featured in Food Arts, too:

Maria Hines, Tilth, Seattle

“Tilth is one of only two restaurants in the country to receive organic certification from Oregon Tilth. Our restaurant is located in a 1917 bungalow house set in the middle of a neighborhood. I didn’t go out looking for a house to put my restaurant in. It just happened that way.”

Appetizer Porcini crème brûlée with vanilla emulsion & porcini dust. “Lucky for us, there are more varieties of wild mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest than in any other part of the world. Our porcini come from a local forager who collects them for us on the Olympic Peninsula. The crème brülée base includes a porcini-infused cream made by simmering dried mushrooms in heavy cream for an hour before steeping overnight. The next day, the cream is gently reheated and strained before the egg yolks are added. Fresh porcini are then diced, sautéed in a little butter, and seasoned before getting pureed and added to the cream base. The custards are baked in ramekins in a water bath and allowed to come to room temperature before chilling. Cooling the créme brûlée to room temperature before refrigeration seems to result in a more supple texture. To serve, sprinkle the surface with sugar and a little fleur de sel for balance; torch to caramelize. Serve with a frisée salad dressed with lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, parsley, shallots, salt, and pepper; vanilla bean–infused whole milk frothed with a hand blender; and a dusting of ground dried porcini.”

Entrées Braised rabbit with piperade, polenta cake & Parmesan broth. “Cure rabbit legs in a 50-50 mixture of salt and sugar with parsley stems, garlic, peppercorns, coriander, fennel seeds, bay leaf, cloves, yellow onions, and fresh thyme. After four hours, rinse, dry, and braise in duck fat until the meat is falling off the bone. Serve the legs resting atop a pan-seared polenta cake made from Anson Mills [Columbia, South Carolina] stone-ground polenta flavored with minced shallots and onions in a shallow bowl. Garnish with piperade, the Basque dish of stewed roasted peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, and thyme finished with fresh parsley, chives, and Garnacha [red wine] vinegar. Ladle some Parmesan broth into each bowl.”

Skagit River Ranch goat chop with preserved plums, baby chickpeas & black mint. “All the meat that comes out of Skagit River Ranch in Washington is awesome. To help tenderize the goat chops, soak them overnight in milk before seasoning and searing to medium. Serve them over braised baby chickpeas finished to order with shallots, minced garlic, white wine, butter, parsley, and chives. I always season my chickpeas after they’ve been soaked and braised be cause adding salt too early seems to prevent them from cooking properly. For the preserved plums, poach Dandy Dapple plums in a simple syrup flavored with red wine, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and thyme. Remove the skins, dice, and simmer for 20 minutes in the poaching liquid before serving over the chop. Garnish with a chiffonade of black mint and a reduction of the plum poaching liquid.”

Dessert Apple/crème fraîche panna cotta with cinnamon caramel sauce, apple gastrique & streusel. “Sauté chopped Gala apples in brown butter with lemon juice and a pinch of salt until tender; puree; add to a base of warm milk, homemade crème fraîche, and bloomed gelatin; pour into molds; chill until set. To serve, paint plates with some cinnamon caramel sauce; unmold panna cottas; using an apple corer, hollow out their centers; fill the holes with some more cinnamon caramel sauce; cover the opening with crunchy, baked streusel crumb topping. Garnish each with a thin apple chip, and drizzle the plates with a syrupy gastrique of apple juice, sugar, and lemon juice.”

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The New York Times — Again
August 28, 2008, 11:25 am
Filed under: In the Media, Recipes

My tomato preserve ice cream recipe appeared in Amanda Hesser’s column in the Sunday Magazine (8/24). Check out the piece here. Here’s the recipe that ran in The New York Times:

August 24, 2008

2008: Tomato-Preserve Ice Cream

By Maria Hines, the chef and owner of Tilth in Seattle.

For the ice cream:

Tomato preserves (see previous recipe), made with 4 pounds tomatoes, prepared up through Step 3

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups half-and-half

½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise

6 large egg yolks

¾ cup sugar

For the caramel (optional):

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon lemon juice

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream.

1. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from their cooking syrup (reserving the syrup). Place the tomatoes in a large, heavy saucepan and mash to a fine pulp with a potato masher. Turn the heat to medium and reduce the pulp to the thickness of tomato paste, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Measure out 1¼ cups. Reserve the rest for spreading on toast. Return the measured amount to the saucepan.

2. Whisk the cream, half-and-half and vanilla into the pulp and place over medium heat. Stir constantly to prevent scorching. When the mixture reaches a simmer — do not let it boil — turn off the heat. Set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar. Whisk about 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks, then return this mixture to the remaining hot cream. Stir over medium-low heat until the custard reaches 180 degrees on a candy thermometer or thickly coats the back of a spoon, then remove from the heat. The custard should be thick and creamy, similar to egg nog.

4. Half-fill a large bowl with ice water. Strain custard into a smaller bowl. Rest the smaller bowl in the ice bath and let cool, stirring often. Chill.

5. Churn the tomato custard in your ice-cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Chill.

6. To serve, make a caramel syrup if you like: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice with 1 tablespoon water. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar caramelizes to a dark amber color. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute. Whisk in the cream, then 3 tablespoons of the reserved tomato syrup. Scoop the ice cream into bowls and drizzle with a little caramel tomato syrup. Makes 1½ quarts.

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So Grateful!
March 26, 2008, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Awards/Recognition

It’s always an overwhelming honor to receive a James Beard nomination. It’s a reminder that each time we send out a dish at Tilth, we have to ask ourselves, “Are we doing our best every single time?”

Thank you,


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A James Beard Award Nomination!
March 26, 2008, 3:58 pm
Filed under: Awards/Recognition, What's New

Chef Maria Hines was nominated for a prestigious James Beard Award for best chef of the Northwest. We congratulate her! She will head to New York for the awards ceremony in June. Wish her luck!

More info: jamesbeard.org.

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Thank You, New York Times!!
February 26, 2008, 11:26 pm
Filed under: In the Media

All the news that’s fit to print, indeed! The New York Times sent restaurant critic Frank Bruni on a cross-country search for the best new restaurants and Tilth is No. 9 on his list of top 10. Not too shabby and way cool! We dedicate this honor to the farmers, foragers, artisans and fishers who bring us the impeccable ingredients that allow us to shine.

Here’s what Frank Bruni wrote about Tilth. But, by all means, visit The New York Times Web site to get the full story. There’s also an interactive feature that allows you to listen to Bruni talk about his experience at Tilth.

Did I let in a draft? Should I take off my shoes?

As I stepped into Tilth, I felt as if I were dropping by somebody’s home, not entering a restaurant.

There’s no proper vestibule, no host stand. And the tables — for only 40 diners — are squished together in two downstairs rooms of a Craftsman-style bungalow with a humble fireplace in which squat, fat candles flicker.

That’s a big part of what distinguishes and recommends this sweet, sweet restaurant, but Tilth, whose name refers to tilled earth, also boasts an organic certification — from the exacting Oregon Tilth association.

That doesn’t mean that everything Tilth serves is organic, because wild fish and foraged mushrooms, for example, aren’t eligible for such designation. But the restaurant is consistently finicky about its suppliers, and that was abundantly clear in meaty, juicy, snowy slices of albacore tuna, pan-seared, oil-glossed and served with celery root in various forms: a purée, crisp wedges like French fries.

Maria Hines, Tilth’s owner and chef, pays more than lip service to the adjectives local and seasonal, and she has created a restaurant that’s very much of its moment, not only in its attention to food miles but also in its menu structure. Every savory dish can be ordered in a half or full portion, so diners can build a meal from a succession of small plates.

Ms. Hines is an inspired cook. Because she smokes the flageolet and cranberry beans in her sensational vegetarian cassoulet ($12/$24) and tops them with toasted bread crumbs thickened with truffle butter, diners have been fooled into believing there are bacon bits afoot.

Her squash risotto ($12/$24) is another dish that’s none the worse for being meatless, thanks to the mascarpone and pine nuts in the mix.

Tilth reaps the bounty of regional waters: the tuna; sockeye salmon ($14/$25); Penn Cove mussels ($12/$23), which were served in a zippy, zesty broth of pork sausage, paprika and green onion. It turns to “pasture raised” beef for its pan-seared flatiron steak ($15/$29), a robust, flavorful dish.

But there’s a self-satisfaction about Tilth that seemed to inform — rather, infect — a few servers, who sometimes acted as if they knew what was best for me. One of them, entrusted with choosing the dishes for my group, made decisions that showed he hadn’t really listened to our clearly stated preferences. Another chided us for asking that our French chenin blanc, from a solid list that wisely doesn’t confine itself to local output, be put on ice.

Their behavior was incongruous at a restaurant with an otherwise generous spirit, reflected on its Web site, which volunteers the recipe for Tilth’s signature bourbon hot chocolate ($9). It includes chopped cardamom pods and dark chocolate from, of course, a Seattle chocolate maker, and it’s a finishing touch at once apt and outrageously good.

Maria’s Podcast Interview
January 20, 2008, 2:22 pm
Filed under: In the Media, Podcast, What's New

How did Maria Hines get started in the restaurant business? What does she think about a culinary degree versus an apprenticeship? Why did she insist on being a certified organic restaurant?

Tune in to this 30-minute podcast interview with Maria to find out.

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Maria Hines on TV
January 14, 2008, 5:31 pm
Filed under: In the Media

Watch Maria Hines’ demo on how she uses plums and pluots in a compote for pound cake. The recipe is below.

© Maria Hines/Tilth Restaurant


1 loaf pound cake (store-bought is fine), at room temperature
Plum compote:
1 tablespoon butter
¼ teaspoon salt
8 plums, pitted and coursely chopped
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pluot salad:
3 pluots, halved, pitted and sliced thinly
¼ cup mint leaves, cut chiffonade style (see Note)
Honey, preferably a light-flavored variety, such as fireweed

If it isn’t already, let the pound cake come to room temperature.

For the compote: In a pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the salt and the chopped plums. Once the plums are warmed through, add the sugar and give it a stir to combine. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice. Let simmer for about two minutes. Taste and add more a touch more sugar, if needed. You want to have a nice sweet-tart balance. Set aside.

For the pluot salad: Combine the sliced pluots and the mint. Toss to combine. Drizzle with honey (about 1 tablespoon) and toss gently to incorporate the honey.

To serve, slice the poundcake into 1-inch pieces. Place on plates. Spoon the compote on top of the cake. Spoon the pluot salad on the side.

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