Imaginative kitchen creations and purely sweetened indulgences that inspire my journey and enrich my experience.These dishes are gluten-free and full of flavor, containing natural ingredients and no refined sugar.
After living in Southern California for 10 years with unlimited access to seafood straight out of the ocean, I have been keeping my expectations close to the ground when looking for quality seafood in Texas. Don't get me wrong, amazing, off-the-charts food has been had by me many times over in both Austin and Dallas the past few months and I have never been more impressed by the multitude of options when it comes to great meals. However, I wanted an experience that reminds me of my days by the water. So, I asked an epicurean where I could find remarkable food made with fresh ingredients and the first thing out of his mouth was TJ's Seafood Market and Grill.
A few days later, I showed up to the restaurant with an appetite at hand. I was greeted by owner, Jon Alexis, an absolute pleasure with a kind and gracious demeanor, who spent the evening walking from table to table ensuring each dish was prepared to his customer's satisfaction. While we looked over the menu and inquired about special preparations, Executive Chef and General Manager, Scott Hoffner, appeared at the counter to answer any questions we had and suggest options according to our liking. One bite of the made-to-order perfection known as grilled salmon was plenty of reason to feature this artistic chef behind the brilliance on my blog.
Hoffner, a Johnson and Wales graduate, began his 29 year career at the age of nine, when he applied for and obtained a job as a dishwasher at Plano Steakhouse. He knew on his first day in the kitchen that he would become a chef. At the age of 11, he was working on the grill, and by 16 he was a saute at Macaroni Grill. He landed a job as an Executive Chef when he was only 22 years old and has since been wooing audiences all over the country with his culinary creations. As if all of this isn't enough to convince you this talented man is about as ambitious as they come, he has spent time (although I'm not sure how he found it) in the world of music, playing drums and touring with successful bands. His passion for his craft runs deep and is apparent when he tells his story. His dishes are straightforward and unique, made with seasonal ingredients of the highest quality. When I asked him why he does what he does, he brazenly answered, "I like making people happy."
While I wanted to confiscate every recipe that makes TJ's one of the most beloved restaurants in Dallas, I walked away with the Blackened Halibut with Creole Sauce, which is delicious, gluten-free and made to fit just about every palate. You can easily make this one at home, although I suggest you try it out at TJ's Seafood Market and Grill if you are in the Dallas area. The staff is possibly the friendliest service ever. Ask for Matthew. He is undeniably delightful and will make you feel right at home. And in case you are wondering, I recommend trying out the wasabi vinaigrette, a sweet and spicy concoction that took Hoffner three years to formulate. It is made to exhilarate the flavor of every dish it touches. I tried with all my might to extract the secret recipe from his hands, but my guileless approach of asking for it was not compelling enough to crack the code. Maybe next time.
Blackened Halibut with Creole Sauce
3 tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper
1/4 cup carrots, diced
3 cups tomatoes, chopped (or canned and crushed)
3 tbs. garlic, chopped
1/2 tbs. Old Bay Seasoning
3 tbs. green onion, chopped
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. thyme
1 tbs. parsley, chopped
4 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
pinch of cayenne
1. Place the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. When the oil is hot, add the onions, celery, and red peppers. Saute the vegetables for 2 to 3 minutes or until they start to wilt.
3. Stir in salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic, tomatoes, Old Bay Seasoning, green onion, parsley and herbs. Continue to saute for 1 minutes. Add water and continue stirring.
4. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 12 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.
2 lbs halibut 1 cup olive oil 1 cup Blackening Powder (see recipe below)
Turn your fan on and window open, this will get a little smokey!
1. Dip each fillet into olive oil, turning once to coat both sides.
2. Sprinkle both sides of fillets with Blackening Powder, and gently pat mixture onto fish.
3. Place fillets into hot pan. Carefully pour about 1 teaspoon olive oil over each fillet. Cook until fish has a charred appearance, about 2 minutes. Turn fillets, spoon 1 teaspoon olive oil over each, and cook until charred. Repeat with remaining fish.
4. Top with Creole Sauce.
3/4 cup sweet paprika
5 tbs. garlic powder
2 tsp. cayenne
1 tbs. black pepper, ground
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs. dried oregano leaves
2 tbs. dried thyme leaves
1. Combine the ingredients in a bottle or container with a tight fitting lid.