Food safety is a frequent topic here at Root. We start every day with hand washing and sanitizing our kitchen stations to make sure the food we are preparing is safe to consume. A great way to demonstrate how bacteria or yeast (both good and bad) work is to show our students how bread dough rises or how lacto-fermentation works.

In class, we are making a hot sauce using organic chilies from Land's Sake farm and fermenting them with lots of garlic. This process allows good bacteria in, which raises the PH balance of the brine, thus preventing harmful bacteria from spoiling our product. By seeing, smelling, and tasting, our students get a better understanding of how bacteria and yeast work. By preventing the bad, we keep people safe, by elevating the good we keep people happy.


Chef Sam’s Hot Pepper Sauce
2 lbs. red hot chili peppers
½ lb. garlic
¾ lb. red tomatoes
1 cup white vinegar
¼ cup salt
¼ cup sugar

Add the chilis, garlic, and tomatoes to a sauce pot and simmer until ingredients are soft. Puree mixture, in small batches, then return to sauce pot. Simmer the pureed mixture on low until thick. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 more minutes. Refrigerate once cooled, or process as desired.

Summer is here!

Summer is here which means my life gets a lot easier. I can sit right back relax and just let mother nature do all of the work. A quick saute, a sprinkling of fresh herbs, a glass of chilled wine, and dinner is served!

But what happens when a load of beautiful organic produce from 3 Sisters farm (Ipswich) is left over from the holiday CSA?  I guess it's time to get back to work and to start preparing for the long cold winter. This provides a great teaching opportunity for our class, "What to do with the summer bounty?".  I see kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled squash, giardiniera or frozen stuffed squash for February. We'll see what direction our program partners want to go but the beautiful product like this will never go to waste.


For the past couple of weeks we have started delivering warm dinners to go on Wednesdays with great success. This week we are offering Cioppino, an Italian fish stew. The first step to making a good stew is making a good stock. In class we broke down black bass so we could use the bones to make stock and the meat will be added later when we build the stew.

Ba´nh mi

We know that we want a ba´nh mi sandwich on our cafe menu but the question was what direction to take it. The original calls for shredded pork and pork liver pate´, while delicious I'm not sure how well it would sell hear in Salem. My answer was to combine the two pork elements and create a country pork pate´seasoned with ginger, garlic and lemongrass. If you wanted to call it an Asian meatloaf I would not be offended. A smear of sriracha aioli, some fresh and pickled vegetables to round it out.

Sam's Bread and Butter Cauliflower Quick Pickles

1 Head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 white onion, sliced thin
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1 qt. rice wine vinegar
2 c sugar
1 tbl turmeric
2 tbl mustard seeds
1 tsp of poppy seeds

Toss onions, peppers and cauliflower together in a bowl. Simmer the vinegar, sugar, turmeric, mustard seed and poppy seeds for 5 minutes. Pack the jars with the raw vegetables--giving  a little room at the top to allow expansion.
Pour hot liquid over vegetables. Loosely place lid on jar until it cools. Tighten lid when cool. Refrigerate.

Winter Warmth and Barbecue Sauce

In an effort to keep at least my mind warm during the winter, I have been working on a bbq recipe for this summer's farmer's markets'. I don't have a recipe yet but I do know that starting with fresh, whole ingredients changes the idea of bbq sauce for the better. Instead of leading with corn syrup or vinegar we will focus on the natural sweet & sour complexity of tomatoes.