Published by

Jeff Tiedeman

About Chef Jeff

Name: Jeff Tiedeman, former Grand Forks Herald food editor
Alias: Chef Jeff.
Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Gender: Male.
Birthday: April 9, 1951.
Occupation: Journalist and blogger.

About Me:

I was born and raised in Crookston, Minn. I attended Cathedral High School for two years and Mount St. Benedict High School for two years, graduating in 1969. I attended the University of Minnesota-Crookston, Corbett College, Bemidji State University and Moorhead State University, where I graduated in 1974 with a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications. During college, I worked on the MSU Advocate and was sports editor for two years. I also worked part time at the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead while attending MSU. I joined the Grand Forks Herald in August 1974 as a part-time sportswriter, going full time in November 1974. I was food editor at the Herald from the mid-1990s to February 2013.
My Interests:

Cooking, gardening, hunting.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Czechoslovakian Cabbage Soup

Cold weather and comfort food go together like bacon and eggs, peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs.

That’s why it wasn’t surprising to me to see a billboard ad this morning touting all the soup you can eat from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays at a local restaurant. After all, what’s more comforting when the temperatures are below zero than a bowl of hot soup?

The following recipe, for Czechoslovakian Cabbage Soup, is my standby when winter temperatures dip into negative territory. It’s a hearty soup that contains cabbage (of course),  sauerkraut, tomatoes and carrots, among other ingredients.

I once brought the soup along on an ice-fishing trip to Lake of the Woods in northwestern Minnesota on a day when the temperatures were well below zero — somewhere between minus 10 and minus 20.

I can’t think of anything else that would have been more comforting.

Czechoslovakian Cabbage Soup
1 head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 quart sauerkraut
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
6 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
2- to 3-pound chuck or buffalo roast or stew meat
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
4 quarts water
Cook meat in water in soup pot until medium. Remove and cool. Put the rest of ingredients in water and bring to boil. Chop the meat into bite-size pieces and add to soup. Cook for 2 hours and serve.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Susie’s Jambalaya

There are a lot of jambalaya recipes floating around the internet. Just how many of them are authentic is anybody’s guess. The way I figure it, for a jambalaya recipe to be the real deal, it must be from someone with ties to Louisiana.

Sue Ellyn Scaletta
Sue Ellyn Scaletta

The one I’m going to share with you today is just that. It comes from an old friend and colleague, the late Sue Ellyn Scaletta. Susie was awful proud of her jambalaya, which she often shared with her co-workers at the Grand Forks Herald. Along with her red beans, it was a testament to her Louisiana roots.

I had Susie’s recipe at one time but over the years seemed to have misplaced it. It wasn’t until a recent get-together with some former Herald newsroom employees at the home of Naomi Dunavan that I was reacquainted with the Cajun classic.

When Susie was fondly recalled, Naomi and another co-worker, Ann Bailey, said they had the aforementioned jambalaya recipe. I asked Naomi if she could make me a copy of the recipe, and she reciprocated.

Almost immediately, I made up my mind that I was going to make some jambalaya for supper. So, on my way home, I stopped by our local supermarket and purchased some shrimp and bell peppers. I had the rest of the ingredients, including a pound of andouille sausage, on hand.

The result exceeded my expectations and although the jambalaya may not have been quite as good as Susie’s, it surely was better than anything I could have created from a Web recipe.

And it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that Susie would have approved.

Susie’s Jambalaya
1 pound large shrimp
2 16-ounce cans tomatoes
2 bell peppers (1 red)
2 to 3 stalks celery
20 ounces chicken broth
½ cup water
1 pound hot sausage
1½ cups uncooked rice
2 large onions
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
Chop vegetables, setting aside half of the onions and peppers. Saute other vegetables in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot until tender. Add chicken broth, water, rice and 1 can tomatoes after chopping them in a blender. Add seasoning salt, garlic and at least 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, then put lid tightly on pot, turn down heat and steam for 20 to 30 minutes or until rice is done and liquid has cooked away.
Boil water seasoned with prepackaged shrimp boil seasoning. Only leave shrimp in the water until they turn pink. Drain and set aside.
Brown sausage that has been cut into small pieces in a frying pan. Set aside.
In another pot, saute the set-aside onions and peppers in olive oil. Add the second can of tomatoes that also have been chopped in blender. Season with cayenne pepper, seasoning salt and about 1 teaspoon sugar.
Add the cooked shrimp and sausage to the cooked vegetables and cook slowly for about 5 minutes then mix thoroughly with vegetable/rice mixture.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi isn’t an entree most people would consider deer hunting camp fare. But they probably don’t know the Menard boys from Crookston, Minn., either.

This past month, I made my fifth trip to Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge and to Tamarac Resort on Round Lake to join my cousins, Kim, Joe and Tom Menard — and Joe’s son, Matt — for the 2017 Minnesota deer hunting opener.

One of the meals we traditionally have during our time together is shrimp scampi, which Joe prepares with some of the garlic butter Kim has brought to camp. Along with some sautéed venison tenderloins and backstraps, it’s a meal made in heaven, our own version of surf ‘n’ turf.

Our neighborhood supermarket recently had shrimp on sale, so I decided to give scampi a try, and the result was nothing short of delicious.

Eat your hearts out, Red Lobster fans.

Shrimp Scampi
1 pound large (16 to 20 count) raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
Salt
3 to 4 garlic cloves, slivered, or 1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (less or more to taste)
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Heat a saute pan on high heat then reduce to medium high heat. Swirl the butter and olive oil into the pan. After the butter melts it will foam a bit then subside. If using unsalted butter, sprinkle a little salt in the pan. Stir in the slivered garlic and red pepper flakes.

Saute the garlic for just a minute, until it begins to brown at the edges, then add the shrimp.
Add the wine and stir to coat the shrimp with the sauce of butter, oil and wine.
Move the shrimp so they are in an even layer in the pan. Increase the heat to high and boil the wine for 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn shrimp over to cook on the other side: Stir the shrimp and arrange them so that you turn them over to cook on the other side. Continue to cook on high heat for another minute.
Remove the pan from the heat. Sprinkle the shrimp with parsley, lemon juice and black pepper, and toss to combine.
Serve as is or with crusty bread, over pasta or over rice.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Chicken Stew

A couple of weeks ago, I was wondering what to do with some leftover chicken, and with the temps in the teens, throwing together a stew came to mind. After all, stew has been known as a comfort food a long time.

The following recipe is the result. I didn’t have to venture out to buy any of the ingredients, either, since we still have carrots and onions from our garden as well as a nice supply of potatoes and frozen peas. Combined with the chicken, gravy and broth — which I made with the bird’s carcass — everything was in place for the stew.

Now I just wish we had some it for today, with 5 to 6 inches of fresh snow on the ground and temperatures in the single digits.

Chicken Stew
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small bites
1 cup chicken gravy
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
2 cups frozen peas
2 potatoes, cubed
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Serve with crusty bread.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Sauerkraut, Sausage and Potatoes

For most people, it’s hard to draw any comparisons to eating sauerkraut right out of the crock. That’s because making homemade sauerkraut is one of the things from the past that not may people do anymore.

You can’t count my septuagenarian friend, Darrel Koehler in that group. Darrel has been making sauerkraut for years, something he learned from his parents while growing up in New York Mills, Minn.

Darrel and I worked together for years at the Grand Forks Herald and shared many a garden during that time, growing cabbage for sauerkraut. While Darrel has scaled back his gardening a bit  in recent years, he still has had time to make sauerkraut, with me providing most of the cabbage and he the preparation.

This year, however, I joined him, grating the cabbage for the kraut while he layered it in two 5-gallon buckets. (Darrel abandoned using his old Red Wing crocks a few years ago after discovering cracks in them.)

Just this past week, Darrel let me know this year’s kraut was ready, which meant I had to pull together what was needed for canning it — rings, lids, jars, canner, etc.

My share of the kraut amounted to about 17 quarts, which I processed Thursday while the wind was howling and the snow was blowing outside. And not before eating a few handfuls of kraut right out of the pail.

Wunderbar!

Sauerkraut, Sausage and Potatoes
½ cup butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves minced (four if you are a garlic lover)
½ teaspoon thyme leaves
Ground black pepper to taste
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 quart sauerkraut
1 pound sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces
Put the cold butter in a cold pan with the diced onion, and slowly bring to a simmer on medium heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and simmer 2 more minutes. Add thyme and pepper.
Combine with the sauerkraut (undrained and not rinsed), sausage and potatoes. Bring to a simmer on the stove top. Cover loosely with foil and place in a preheated 225-degree oven for 3 hours.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole

Cabbage is a pretty popular vegetable among gardeners. It’s also one that knows no ethnic boundaries.

For example, Germans and Koreans love fermented cabbage. In Germany, it’s called sauerkraut. In Korea, it’s kimchi. The Irish have a favorite dish, colcannon, which traditional dish of mashed potatoes mixed with boiled cabbage or kale and either bacon or ham. And Cabbage rolls are common to the cuisines In the Middle East and Mediterranean areas, northern and central Europe as well as Iran, West Asia and northern China.

If you love cabbage like me, you’ve probably sampled some or all of the above and probably have your own favorite. I have a sweet spot for sauerkraut, and cabbage rolls also appeal to me.

But this week, I’ve discovered a tomato-based cabbage casserole that will give those two favorites a run for their money. It’s a nutritious and economical meal that will easily feed five or six.

And being a gardener whose cabbage crop was above average, you can be sure I’ll  that the multilayered vegetable packed with nutrients including manganese, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, vitamins A and B6 will make many more appearances at our dinner table.

Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole
1 pound lean ground beef
½pound ground pork
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
1 can tomato soup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 teaspoon dried dill
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
2½ cups cooked rice (brown or white)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head of cabbage chopped (approx. 8 cups)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan.
Brown ground beef, ground pork, onion and garlic until no pink remains. Drain any fat.
Add tomato sauce, tomato soup, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, dill, parsley and bay leaf. Simmer covered 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf and stir in rice.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add cabbage and cook until tender crisp.
Place half of the cabbage in the pan. Top with half of the beef/rice mixture. Repeat layers ending with beef/rice.
Bake uncovered 25 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Not Your Mom’s Ratatouille

If you’re a gardener who grows a variety of vegetables, the classic Nicoise dish, ratatouille, should be right up your alley.

The stewed vegetable entree consisting of eggplant, tomato, pepper, zucchini, onion and herbs has been has been a favorite in France for many, many years, but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago that ratatouille rose to the prominence it enjoys today.

That’s when the animated movie by that name from Disney/Pixar came out and a rat with a keen sense of smell named Remy became a great Parisian chef after a soujourn into French countryside.

I had been familiar with the dish since the 1970s, when co-workers Tim Fought and Marcia Harris, both prolific gardeners, introduced me to the tasty entree. Since then, I usually make a pot or two of it every summer — it’s very easy to prepare — with fresh produce from my own garden.

My recipe, which follows, contains all the vegetables listed above plus a few more, thus the name “Not Your Mother’s Ratatouille.”

It’s not the classical dish that you would find in an upscale restaurant in Nice, France, but I’m sure that my French-Canadians ancestors who came to North America as peasants in the 17th and 18th centuries would say “Oui.”

Not Your Mom’s Ratatouille
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato bruschetta
6 Roma tomatoes, skins removed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
½ green pepper, chopped
1 small or ½ large eggplant, cubed
1 medium summer squash, seeds removed and cut into small chunks
3 small okra pods, sliced
1 cup cooked corn kernels
½ cup kale, chopped
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup red wine
Place olive oil and add the onion, garlic and celery. Saute for a few minutes and then add the rest of the ingredients except the kale and basil. Cook for about 15 minutes and then add kale and basil. Cook another 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Broccoli Pasta Salad

Salads are for summertime — especially if you have a garden. There’s nothing like a bunch of fresh veggies from the garden — all tossed together in a bowl and seasoned with a homemade vinaigrette — to start off a meal.

With a nice crop of lettuce and kale in our garden, we’ve been enjoying fresh salads for going on three months now. And with the tomatoes just starting to ripen, the salads are only going to get better.

But there is more to salads than the greens. Take, for example, the following broccoli salad recipe, which has many variations, and is a favorite of ours in the summer.

We usually have three or four broccoli plants in the garden, which keep on producing right up until freeze-up. This summer, however, baby bunnies raised havoc with the plants, and we have only two out of four remaining, and they have been stunted by the “Wascally Wabbits,” as cartoon character Elmer Fudd used to call Bugs Bunny and his ilk.

The hasn’t stopped Therese from making the broccoli salad, though. I just finished the last of her most recent batch, all the while wishing there was more.

I guess I’ll have to settle for more garden green salads instead.

Broccoli Pasta Salad
2 cups broccoli, broken into bite-size pieces
4 ounces feta cheese
2 cups uncooked rotini pasta
½ cup black olives, chopped
1 7½-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 16-ounce bottle Italian dressing (can use fat-free)
Cook pasta according to package directions. Cool. Mix in large bowl with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate overnight.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Meatball, Bean And Kale Soup

How often have you heard someone say about a particular food, “It’s an acquired taste”?

If you cook with nutrition in mind or raise a diverse garden like me, I would bet it’s more often than not.

That’s not an indictment of mine or your tastes, but if it is, I plead guilty. It’s more of an acknowledgment that we are on the right track when it comes to eating the healthiest things.

Probably one of the most mentioned foods associated with “acquired taste” is kale. It’s an acquired taste, for sure, but kale is packed with vitamins and nutrients.

Consider this: Kale has more iron than beef, more calcium than milk, 10 times more vitamin C than spinach. It also is good for your eyes, skin and bones, reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer and lowers cholesterol.

We’ve become big fans of kale at our house. Therese and I have been raising kale in our garden for three or four years now. Each ensuing summer, we seem to be eating more and more, especially in our almost-daily dinner salad, in which kale is combined with leaf and iceberg lettuce as well as any number of vegetables including zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, onion and carrots.

My favorite use of kale, however, is in soup. The following recipe, one that I created this past week, not only contains 4 cups of kale, it also is loaded with beans and carrots, two other highly nutritious foods.

That’s the kind of recipe worth acquiring.

Meatball, Bean And Kale Soup
For meatballs:
1½ pounds ground beef or bison
1 pound of ground pork
2 cups Italian-flavored bread crumbs
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup grated cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped very fine
1 onion, minced
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
½ cup pignoli (pine nuts) (optional)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Let stand ½ hour. Shape into medium-size meatballs. Fry gently in olive oil until lightly browned, or place on foil on a cookie sheet and bake for ½ hour at 350 degrees.
FOR SOUP:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots peeled and large chop
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery diced
2 cloves garlic minced
8 cups chicken broth or stock
2 bay leaves
1 15-ounce can small white beans or navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cups fresh kale tough stems removed, chopped
½ cup orzo pasta
¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
FOR GARNISH:
Parmesan cheese grated (optional)
Fresh basil (optional)
Croutons (optional)
Breadsticks (optional)
Preheat over to 350 degrees.
In a large Dutch oven, add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the diced onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Saute until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add chicken stock and bay leaves and heat the broth to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add beans, tomatoes, kale, orzo, 10 to 12 meatballs and red pepper flakes (if using). Simmer for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and fresh basil, if desired. Serve with croutons to sprinkle on soup or crispy breadsticks on the side.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Smoked Salmon Spread

Smoked foods such as fish and meat make great appetizers. And when you do the smoking yourself, they seem even better.

Recently, I smoked some salmon that was given to me by my brother-in-law, Dean Lutz, in my Masterbuilt electric smoker, which I purchased at Cabela’s about eight years ago.

Over the years, I’ve smoked venison, pheasant, grouse and ducks as well as salmon, and the results have never been disappointing. But it’s been awhile since the last batch hit the smoker, and I was eager to get back to business.

After loading up the hopper with a mixture of apple, mesquite and hickory wood chips that I had soaked in water for a couple of hours, the salmon was ready for the smoker.

After two hours smoking, I removed the salmon and let it cool overnight in the refrigerator before putting together a spread.

The recipe I used came from Jerry Dufault, who is my second cousin. (Jerry’s grandmother, Valerie Regeimbal, and my grandfather, Albert Menard, were siblings.) It is fantastic, a combination of salmon, fat-free creamed cheese, onion and a little garlic powder, dried basil and fresh ground pepper.

Jerry told me he liked the spread on crackers and that it keeps very well in the refrigerator (which also enhances the taste). He also brought me a sample of his, and after trying it, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the recipe to give it a try.

Both Therese and I have been devouring the spread — she likes it on toast, me on Wasa crackers — the past few days.

So much for flavor-enhancing time in the refrigerator.

Smoked Salmon Spread
Approximately 8 ounces smoked salmon
8 ounces fat-free cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 level teaspoon dried basil leaves (crushed)
1teaspoon garlic powder
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Parsley (optional)
Process the salmon and onion in a food processor. Mix salmon, onion and spices with cream cheese by using a metal spatula until cheese is thoroughly mixed with ingredients. (To make a smoother spread, mix all in food processor.)
Tip: Refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.