It’s a pleasure to have our spotlight on Lai Kuan of Food For Tots today. We were bowled over by all the beautifully styled food photos that Lai Kuan presents on her website. Her recipes are so easy to follow and she’s definitely a great homecook! So let’s get to know more about Lai Kuan.
I am neither a chef nor nutritionist, I’m simply a stay-at-home mother who is passionate about providing a well-balanced and healthy meal for my family. Out of necessity, I started cooking after my family moved to Singapore in 2007. I was then a novice with zero cooking knowledge and learned through trials and errors. With the encouragement of my best friend, I started a blog a year later to share my cooking and baking experiences mainly focusing on toddlers. Recently, my family has moved back to Kuala Lumpur.
1. What do you enjoy about cooking or baking?
Training my son to love and appreciate food, to be adventurous in exploring new food and understand the importance of good health.
2. Where do most of your recipes come from?
My inspiration comes from magazines, newspapers, cookbooks, food blogs, YouTube and TV cooking shows.
3. What is your favourite kind of food to make?
I love to make food that is simple, healthy and delicious. Of course, kids-friendly is my first choice. On days when I am in my lazy mode, my favourite would be one dish meal.
4. Do you plan a weekly menu? If so, what inspires your menu
When I first started to cook, I need to plan a weekly menu as I had no idea what to cook. But as time goes on, with more cooking experience, I don’t need a weekly menu anymore. Nowadays, I prefer flexibility. I just do my routine grocery shopping to stock up my fridge with a variety of fresh ingredients. The rest will depend on my creativity and inspiration with what I have in the fridge.
5. What is your favourite recipe posted on your blog/website?
Honey balsamic vinegar chicken, (Click here for the recipe). It’s my family’s all-time favourite. It’s so easy to cook yet delicious till it has become my hubby’s signature dish whenever he takes charge of the kitchen.
6. What is your favourite kitchen tool/appliance?
It got to be my Tefal steamer!! It has been a very important kitchen appliance to me since day one I started learning to cook. Until now, I still use it every day without fail, sometimes even 2-3 times a day. It’s so versatile that I use it to steam rice (even for brown or multigrain rice), steam dishes, and re-heat food.
7. What is your best tip for getting dinner on the table?
Plan your dinner in advance unless you’re an experienced cook. If time is a constraint, an all-in-one dish meal will be the best choice.
8. What is your favourite part about blogging?
The more I share, the more I learn. I get to meet new friends from all over the world. Meanwhile, I also love to hear feedback from readers who have tried my recipes for their kids.
9. What is your best tip to becoming a successful blogger?
Be sincere, humble, friendly and professional.
10. Which are your favourite food blogs/ websites?
The Pioneer Woman, Annabel Karmel, Tartelette, Cannelle et Vanille, Steamy Kitchen, Rasa Malaysia, Christine’s Recipe, My Cooking Hut, ?????????, Carol ????
RECIPE FOR ALMOND BISCOTTI
120g plain flour (all-purpose flour)
30g almond flour (ground almond)
½ tsp baking powder
1 egg (about 65g) – at room temperature
75g castor sugar
Pinch of salt
95g almonds (raw)
- Rinse almonds lightly. Pat dry with kitchen towel. (it’s optional)
- Place almonds on a baking tray, bake in a preheated oven at 160°C for 8 minutes. Give it a stir after the first 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- In a mixing bowl, sieve plain flour, almond flour and baking powder. Then use a hand whisk to combine.
- In another bowl, beat the egg lightly with a hand whisk or electrical mixer. Then add in sugar and salt. Beat until the mixture is fluffy and pale.
- Add in flour mixture (from step 3). Use a rubber spatula or plastic scraper to mix all the ingredients until well combined. You can use technique such as cut, press and scrape to mix.
- Then add in the roasted almonds. Mix until well combined and form a dough. At this stage, the dough is quite sticky. So, dust your hands and counter top with more flours before proceeding to the next step.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal portions, roll into log shapes (22cm length x 5cm width x 1.5cm thickness) and then flatten slightly (refer to note 4).
- Place the logs on a baking tray lined with grease-proof baking paper. Transfer the tray to oven, bake at 160°C for 30 minutes or until well risen and firm. If your logs show uneven colour, rotate them at 180 degree towards the last 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 15-20 minutes (note 1).
- When the logs are cooled, use serrated knife (refer to photo below) to cut it diagonally into thin slices (0.3cm thickness – note 1). Arrange slices on the lined baking tray, transfer to oven, place at the lowest rack and bake for a further 150°c for 14 minutes (7 minutes for each side) or until slightly golden brown.
- Cool on rack and keep in an air-tight container for several weeks.
- After baking the logs for the first round, allow them to cool down and then slice them with a serrated knife. Otherwise, the biscotti will crumble and break easily. If you find problem cutting the slices into 0.3cm thickness, then the thickness between 0.8-1cm should be fine too.
- If these biscotti turn soft after some time, bake them in a preheated oven at 150°c for 5 minutes to crisp.
- Watch THIS VIDEO on how to shape the dough.
- As these biscotti contains nut, they may not be suitable for young toddlers and kids who have nut-allergy. For this, you may substitute them with dried fruits (such as cranberries) and seeds (such as pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds).
Thank you Lai Kuan for sharing so much with us today. As always, your food styling and photography never fail to impress us! If you would like to know more about Lai Kuan you may find her in the following links –
All photos courtesy of Lai Kuan of Food For Tots