Malaysian Roasted Root Vegetables with WORLDFOODS Chilli Coconut Marinade

Malaysian Chilli Coconut Marinade Recently, I was invited to attend a dinner sponsored by WORLDFOODS, a Malaysian based maker of high quality Asian-inspired sauces, marinades, chutneys, and pastes.  I walked away with a bag of several of their 51 different products and a challenge: come up with and blog about new and creative ways to cook with their products. 

The first product I used was their Malaysian Chilli Coconut Marinade.  It was a weeknight and I needed to prepare a quick meal.  One chicken breast and thirty minutes later, I had a tasty protein ready to cook and add to a salad.  There were two things that caught my attention about the marinade:

First, one reason I cook a lot is that I want to know what I’m putting in my body.  Looking at the ingredient list, I was pleased to see familiar, pronounceable words.  No artificial colors, preservatives, flavorings, MSG, or gluten.

Second, the flavor was remarkably good and remarkably authentic.  Unlike a lot of “Asian” products that are watered down versions of popular sauces, the WORLDFOODS products have the same ingredients (and the same amount of chilies!) that you find when eating these foods in their home country.  While available worldwide, you won’t find any “Americanization” of the flavors.

Wanting to find ways to use the marinade differently than its traditional use, I put the right side of my brain to work.  The idea I settled on was to do roasted root vegetables, something I associate more with olive oil and rosemary, and use the Chilli Coconut Marinade as a glaze.

P1130109

I decided on a combination of yams and beets (about 1.5 pounds or 750 grams total), with two yellow onions and a handful of garlic cloves.  These were scrubbed and, except for the yams, peeled.  Then I sliced them into approximately 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces.

P1130111

When I cut open the yams I was surprised to discover that they did not have the orange-colored interiors I am familiar with.  Instead, they are purple.  In the end, the flavor wasn’t that different, although it did lead to a slightly more monochromatic dish than I had anticipated.

P1130113

Once the root vegetables, onion, and garlic were combined, I coated them with about 1 cup (200 ml) of WORLDFOODS Malaysian Chilli Coconut Marinade and 1/2 cup (100 ml) of chicken broth.  You can substitute water or vegetable broth, if you wish to keep the dish vegetarian.

The vegetables were poured in an ovenproof dish and then placed in a preheated 350 F (180 C) oven for about 25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes to keep the vegetables coated with marinade.  There is enough marinade that it forms a bit of a pool at the bottom of the dish, helping cook the vegetables by steam as well as direct heat.

P1130117

Once the yams and beets were getting soft but not yet fully cooked through, I stirred in about 4 cups (90 dl) of kale, washed and cut into wide strips.  The dish returned to the oven for about ten more minutes, enough time to finish cooking the root vegetables while still leaving the kale a little crunchy.  You can cook the dish for longer if you prefer your vegetables softer.

P1130123

Uncommitted to the idea of this being a fully vegetarian meal, I also pan fried a plate of Northeastern Thai style sausage called Sai Oua, sliced it, and served it on the side.

P1130125

The end result was very nice.  The marinade had thickened into a nice glaze, coating the vegetables with a sweet, tangy, and spicy sauce which countered the natural sugars in the yams and beets.  The kale provided a fresh contrast that made for a very satisfying meal.

All in all, I’m very pleased with the WORLDFOODS Malaysian Chilli Coconut Marinade and look forward to trying it in other dishes, as well as to trying their other products.

While WORLDFOODS is based in Malaysia, its products are available in major countries across the world including Australia, the UK, the United States, and Canada, as well as most Southeast Asian countries.  To locate a store which carriers their products near you, use this store locator.  In the United States, you can also order WORLDFOODS products for home delivery through MyBrands.com

Full disclosure: While I am not being paid or otherwise compensated to write this entry, I did receive the products for free and dinner that night was paid for by WORLDFOODS.  It’s important to me that you know that the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and are not bought or paid for by others.

 

Baking Natural Red Velvet Cupcakes

The red velvet cake’s entry into popular culture can probably be traced to the 1989 film Steel Magnolias, in which the groom’s cake was a red velvet cake in the shape of an armadillo.  There’s something seductive about the color of a red velvet cake, especially a cupcake, at least at first.  But at some point, the red seems just a little too red, and it starts to seem a bit unnatural.  That’s no surprise considering that a recipe will use up to several tablespoons of red food coloring.

red_velvet_cupcakes-grab_your_fork

Doing some research, I gathered that red velvet cake was originally not so red and the color came about naturally.  Cocao powder, a key ingredient, didn’t used to be “Dutch process” and was less alkaline in years gone by.  When combined with the buttermilk and vinegar in the recipe, the chemical reaction caused the batter to take on a muddy red hue.  Unable to find cocao powder that isn’t Dutch process here in Thailand, I stumbled upon a recipe for Natural Red Velvet Cake that, supposedly based on a traditional southern recipe, uses cooked beets for the color.

Intrigued, I had to try.

P1100542

The ingredients: brown and granulated sugars, eggs, flour, cocoa powder, chocolate, buttermilk, butter, vanilla, salt, baking soda, cider vinegar, and roasted beets.

P1100536

The mystery ingredient.  Instead of using canned beets, which the recipe called for, I roasted my own beets and then pureed them with a little bit of olive oil and water.

P1100543

First step: Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water.  Chocolate doesn’t figure in most red velvet cake recipes, only cocoa powder, so I was surprised by this addition.

P1100546

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.  One of these days I’ll have to seek out natural cocoa powder (i.e. not Dutch process) and see how that affects the outcome of the recipe.

P1100550

Cream together the eggs, butter, and two types of sugars.  Most cake recipes are specific about the process – for example, whip the butter and sugars before adding the eggs.  No specificity here so I just dumped them all into the bowl and turned the mixer on.

P1100551

The end result (after combining the dry ingredients and adding the melted chocolate and beets) had a vaguely reddish tinge to it, although that could just be a color correction issue from the light.

P1100558

Cupcake liners filled and ready to bake.  Lesson I’ve learned: don’t fill your cupcake liners so high because cake batter expands as it bakes.

P1100562

See?  I told you that cake batter expands.  Now I have these muffin top cupcakes that would have been interesting if the crumb had held together better, but the structure was kind of weak.

P1100575

The cupcakes pretty much crumbled when unwrapped.  I’m very curious why this is.  Maybe cake flour didn’t have enough protein and regular flour would have been better?  Maybe just a little too much liquid in the beets?  Baking is a science and something didn’t work out right here.

P1100584

To frost the cupcakes, I prepared a butter-cream cheese frosting but perhaps didn’t whip it enough.  That, or the opening in the frosting tip was too small.  The frosting bag actually burst on me so I had to instead spread the frosting instead of piping it.

P1100582

The end results looked a bit rag-tag.  I really need to take a class to learn how to frost a cupcake properly.  As for the taste, the cupcakes were very moist and the beet flavor wasn’t noticeable at all.  As for the color, though, there really was nothing red about the red velvet cupcakes.  Not in the least bit.

I guess if I want a really red, red velvet cupcake, I may need to reach for the food coloring after all.