Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food from the Winner of MasterChef Season 3 on FOX(TM)

In her kitchen, Christine Ha possesses a rare ingredient that most professionally-trained chefs never learn to use: the ability to cook by sense. After tragically losing her sight in her twenties, this remarkable home cook, who specializes in the mouthwatering, wildly popular Vietnamese comfort foods of her childhood, as well as beloved American standards that she came to love growing up in Texas, re-learned how to cook. Using her heightened senses, she turns out dishes that are remarkably delicious, accessible, luscious, and crave-worthy.

Millions of viewers tuned in to watch Christine sweep the thrilling Season 3 finale, and here they can find more of her deftly crafted recipes. They’ll discover food that speaks to the best of both the Vietnamese diaspora and American classics, personable tips on how to re-create delicious professional recipes in a home kitchen, and an inspirational personal narrative bolstered by Ha’s background as a gifted writer. Recipes from My Home Kitchen will braid together Christine’s story with her food for a result that is one of the most compelling culinary tales of her generation.

Amazon Q&A for Recipes from My Home Kitchen. Graham Elliot, MasterChef judge, chef and restauranteur interviews Christine Ha, author of Recipes from My Home Kitchen.

Graham Elliot

Graham Elliot: When you first auditioned for MasterChef did you ever imagine you we’d be talking about your very own cookbook a year later?

Christine Ha: Definitely not. I mean, it was my dream, yes. Out of the trophy/title, monetary winnings, and the cookbook deal, the cookbook was the prize I wanted the most. It only made sense–I am a writer, and by nature, writers want to share themselves with the world through their stories. What better way to marry the two loves of my life–food and word–than with my very own cookbook? But to compete against more than 30,000 home cooks across America? I don’t like to get my hopes up, so I tried not to give it much thought. Well, I realize now that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it and play it smart.

GE: Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich and I were always blown away by your ability to present beautiful, edible creations. How are you able to produce such visually stunning dishes without your sense of sight?

CH: Ah, that seems to be the million dollar question. Well, I’ve always had an elephant’s memory, and this was only perpetuated with my vision loss. Now that I can’t depend on my eyes to see what’s laid out on the counter, I have to memorize where I put the basil, the knife, the sauté pan full of hot oil. This memory of how foods look–shape, their color, their texture–is what aids me when I plate a dish. I think having to feel your food forces you to become more connected with it; that’s the belief of those cultures that eat their meals with their hands–touching your food with your fingers increases awareness. I also believe the fact that I can’t see the small imperfections on a plate–say, the microgreens not being set exactly 2.5 inches apart–makes for a more organic and, in my opinion, aesthetically more pleasing plate.

GE: Which aspects of your cooking style do you think will be most popular with the average American home cook?

CH: Oh, Graham, I’m smart, but I’m not psychic! Is there really such a thing as an “average American home cook”? Americans are hardly average at all. Like I said, our country is just so diverse. Plus home cooks are becoming quite sophisticated these days–just look at the range of talent you see on each season of “MasterChef.” I will say, however, that with demographics moving more and more towards dual income households, and even in the case of stay-at-home parents who are busy taking care of the kids and the house, people have less time and energy to cook dinner every night. For these reasons, I think many home cooks would appreciate recipes that are flavorful but not fussy. Actually, those are the exact parameters I have in my own kitchen when I cook a weeknight dinner. And for the weekends when there’s a little more time for leisure projects, I enjoy more elaborate experiments like pulled pork sandwiches or my mama’s eggrolls. Both types of recipes, from the easy to the intricate, can be found right here in this very cookbook.

GE: How has your approach to cooking changed over the years? How has it evolved since you won MasterChef?

CH: Like many who first start out cooking, I was very methodical. I learned by following recipes to the T–I used to think the world would end if I accidentally added one teaspoon of salt when the recipe called for three-fourths. But after cooking a dozen meals or so, I started understanding basic cooking methods and techniques. Then after another dozen meals, I began grasping flavor profiles. As with any art, once you know and understand the rules, you can break them and get away with it. Once I got to that point, I ventured off and came up with my own recipes.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learned during my time on “MasterChef” is to trust my gut. Food can be very subjective. I can’t stand dill or cooked salmon. But hey, if your favorite dish in the world is your grandma’s baked salmon with dill weed, I can’t argue that. I do think, however, that one should be able to back up their penchant for dill and baked salmon. “I love baked salmon and dill weed because it’s good,” to me, is not a valid argument. “I love baked salmon and dill weed because I think they complement each other in XYZ ways” is an argument I can respect even if I don’t agree. Having said this, however, I wouldn’t want everyone in the world to dislike dill and cooked salmon, because then where would their places be in our lives? I had a creamy dill sauce over a crêpe recently, and I thought it was incredibly delicious. And salmon sashimi is on my short list of favorite foods. I trust chefs who are confident in their opinions and can back them up. Diversity is what makes this world great; we should celebrate our differences.

GE: With the veritable treasure trove of recipes you now possess, which one do you feel best represents you and your life’s journey?

CH: I’d have to go with the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. It starts out an inedible mass, but after you put some heat under it, it becomes delectably sweet–that’s been my journey in life. It’s by no means fancy, but it will always put a smile on your face–that’s me. Sinfully scrumptious.

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Melba’s American Comfort: 100 Recipes from My Heart to Your Kitchen

Fresh from the kitchen of her legendary Harlem restaurant, Melba’s, the reigning queen of American comfort food serves up one hundred delectable recipes that put her own special touch on favorite dishes—and taste just like home.

Where do celebrities and foodies go for the most delicious fried chicken and eggnog waffles? To Melba’s, of course! Melba Wilson is a sweet, upbeat, occasionally sassy, always genuine ambassador for the cuisine known for years as soul food but that she prefers to call American comfort food. Melba cut her culinary teeth at the iconic Sylvia’s, the famed Windows on the World, and the hugely popular Rosa Mexicano. Now, as the pioneering owner of her own legendary Harlem restaurant, she proudly holds court in Melba’s always-packed dining room, dishing out lovingly prepared sweet potato pie, wine-braised short ribs, BBQ turkey meatloaf, deviled eggs, and a legion of mouth-watering American classics as well as unforgettable special twists on beloved comfort foods.

Now you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home to dig into her sumptuous signature recipes! With mouthwatering full-color photography and a beautiful design, Melba’s American Comfort features the secrets of her irresistible home cooking, passed down from her great-grandmother and other talented generations and given her own loving variations, plus a treasure trove of delightful stories from the heart of her bustling kitchen.

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  • Melba s American Comfort 100 Recipes from My Heart to Your Kitchen

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Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations: Traditional and Contemporary Native American Recipes

In this gloriously photographed book, renowned photographer and Native American–food expert Lois Ellen Frank, herself part Kiowa, presents more than 80 recipes that are rich in natural flavors and perfectly in tune with today’s healthy eating habits. Frank spent four years visiting reservations in the Southwest, documenting time-honored techniques and recipes. With the help of culinary advisor and Navajo Nation tribesman Walter Whitewater, a chef in Santa Fe, Frank has adapted the traditional recipes to modern palates and kitchens. Inside you’ll find such dishes as Stuffed Tempura Chiles with Fiery Bean Sauce, Zuni Sunflower Cakes, and Prickly Pear Ice. With its wealth of information, this book makes it easy to prepare and celebrate authentic Native American cooking.

  • Includes sources for special ingredients and substitutions.
  • Chapters are organized by the staples of Native American cuisine: corn, vine-growing vegetables, wild fruits and greens, legumes, game birds, meats, fish, and breads. 
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     Awards2003 James Beard Award WinnerReviews“A stunning new cookbook.” —Accent West“[A] wonderful introduction to America’s oldest cuisine.”—Phoenix magazine “One of the most stunning books of the year.”—Austin American Statesman “Gorgeous . . . exceptional.”—New Age Retailer

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    Verdure: Vegetable Recipes from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome, Rome Sustainable Food Project

    Until 2007, a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome—arguably, the most prestigious prize awarded to archaeologists, painters, architects, scholars, and artists—had one huge drawback: the food. The dining room, ideally a place for Fellows to gather and for disciplines to “cross-pollinate,” was catered by an outside company whose dreadful food was to be avoided at all costs. But when AAR President Chatfield-Taylor asked Alice Waters to help, Waters famously responded, “That depends. What do you want, better food—or a revolution?” Fatefully and without hesitation, Chatfield-Taylor replied, “A revolution.” And a revolution was ignited.
     
    A year later later, the ideals (local, seasonal, organic, sustainable) were implemented and the kitchen was up and running, with Chez Panisse alums Mona Talbott and Christopher Boswell as chefs. In a matter of days, not only were the Fellows filling the tables at lunch and dinner, they were gathered ‘round the blackboard at 11am, anxiously waiting for the daily menus to be posted. The press wasn’t far behind:
     
    “In a town where residents talk a lot about food, the new food at the academy quickly became the talk of Rome, and a dinner invitation became a coveted commodity.”—The New York Times
     
    Seven years later, Verdure is the RSFP’s fourth cookbook (following Biscotti, Zuppe, Pasta).  It is perhaps the ideal collaboration among the kitchen and the Academy garden, the artisan producers, and the organic farmers who provide the impeccable raw ingredients used in each dish. (Some are even foraged by the academy’s fellows in field trips to local meadows and forests.) Its 92 recipes are arranged seasonally; week by week, it can be used to navigate the harvest of the farmer’s market. Frugality is a consideration: the RSFP kitchen feeds a group, and cost is a consideration (beans, grains, and greens take a starring role). Maximizing flavor is paramount (consider the lowly onion, risen to new heights in a sweet and sour sauce). Every recipe appears simple and is easy to execute, but rises far, far above the fundamental.

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    American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MP3

    Explore the rich terrain of American popular music with the most complete, colorful, and authoritative introduction of its kind. In the fifth edition of their best-selling text, American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MP3, Larry Starr and Christopher Waterman provide a unique combination of cultural and social history with the analytical study of musical styles.

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    The Great American Songbook – The Composers: Music and Lyrics for Over 100 Standards from the Golden Age of American Song

    (Piano/Vocal/Guitar Songbook). From Berlin to Gershwin to Carmichael to Cahn, this folio features a comprehensive collection of standards from the greatest American composers, along with photos and bios of these masters of song. Includes beloved standards such as: Ain’t Misbehavin’ * All the Way * Blue Skies * Cheek to Cheek * Come Fly with Me * Don’t Get Around Much Anymore * A Fine Romance * Georgia on My Mind * Honeysuckle Rose * I’ve Got You Under My Skin * It Could Happen to You * Mona Lisa * Mood Indigo * Moon River * My Funny Valentine * Satin Doll * Stella by Starlight * Take the “A” Train * Time After Time * You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To * and dozens more.

    Product Features

    • Softcover
    • 320 pages
    • Size: 12″ x 9″
    • Composer: Various
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    Real Restaurant Recipes American Comfort Food: Food That Built a Business

    WELCOME TO MY PASSION! This Restaurant Recipe Cookbook contains restaurant customer-tested, approved and requested recipes, recipes to enjoy and share with your friends and family. These foods are best shared with loving family and friends. It is what I enjoyed most about preparing this food (or any food) – the sharing. The kitchen is filled with the aroma and flavor of food that brings back warm memories and happy times. And as these recollections take place around the table with the meal, yet another fond memory is given life. Preparing and sharing classic “comfort food” is like turning your stressful life down to simmer. Most of us don’t have just one great memory associated with just one food – we have many. So, the list of favorite foods can be large and varied. Here are real restaurant recipes for foods that people have specifically requested because they are delicious and give them comfort. These foods are unpretentious, but have great flavors and make you feel good preparing and eating them. You can have these real restaurant recipes for American-style comfort foods when you purchase this cookbook written by me, a former restaurant owner. For over three decades my customers have requested these real restaurant recipes. Recipes for the food they enjoyed at the restaurant. But they also wanted the opportunity to prepare these meals at home for themselves, their families and their guests. No longer will you need to rely on “best guess” or “nearly accurate” restaurant recipes or “cloned” restaurant recipes or totally unproven recipes. These are real restaurant recipes. This is a restaurant recipe cookbook you must have! And with the clarity of these restaurant recipes, you do not have to be a particularly great cook to prepare a fabulous meal! I have made certain the ingredients and instructions are very clear. Order this cookbook – Real Restaurant Recipes: American Comfort Foods – with color pictures! With this restaurant recipe cookbook, you will fill your kitchen and dining table welcoming you and your family to tasty and memorable delights. You Can Cook with Confidence and Style! Bonus’! I have included my Peanut Butter Pie recipe AND my award-winning Oreo Cheesecake recipe! ALSO…I have included a brief history of the restaurant I owned and operated for over 30 years and the small town in which it was located with some appropriate color photos. Happy reading and have fun in the kitchen, but most of all enjoy making special memories with family and friends. Thank you for your interest in my real restaurant recipes. Make Something Delicious Happen Today! Enjoy the food and the company of those you share it with! —Donna Real Restaurant Recipes Food That Built a Business – American Comfort Foods Former Owner of the Collectors Choice Restaurant in Snohomish, Washington. Follow me on Amazon.com.

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    The American Diabetes Association Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook

    While fancy and sophisticated foods continue to grow in popularity, ask most people what their favorite foods are and the answer will invariably be classic comfort foods: lasagna, meat loaf, mac and cheese, and cake. Unfortunately, most people think that having diabetes means the days of enjoying these hearty classics are long gone, and that their favorite foods are a thing of the past. Author Robyn Webb shows that healthy eating doesn’t have to mean giving up on favorite foods! Diabetes can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel when it comes to cooking. Just a tweak here and there and familiar foods can remain favorites, guilt-free, and enjoyed every day.

    The American Diabetes Association Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook creates a “go-to” collection of updated comfort foods for families that need to cook nutritionally sound and diabetic-friendly meals that will satisfy and soothe the souls of the member (or members) of the family with diabetes—and do the same for the rest of the family. No need to cook two meals to please everyone in the household. Now everyone can enjoy the same hearty and nutritious meals. This book will ease the stress of planning meals by offering easy and flavorful recipes and a menu planning guide that allows for mix and match meals that will keep everyone in the family happy, healthy, and satisfied.

    Filled with gorgeous original photography and a beautiful four-color design, this cookbook will look as good as it’s meals. Sprinkled with helpful tips and time-saving advice, The American Diabetes Association Comfort Food Cookbook will not only make classic comfort foods healthier and diabetes friendly, it will make them a snap to prepare as well.

    Following a diabetic meal plan doesn’t have to be a flavorless chore. Now everyone can enjoy the classic foods they know and love!

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    American Popular Music

    Explore the rich terrain of American popular music with the most complete, colorful, and authoritative introduction of its kind. In the fourth edition of their bestselling text, American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MP3, Larry Starr and Christopher Waterman provide a unique combination of cultural and social history with the analytical study of musical styles. This new edition traces the development of jazz, blues, country, rock, hip-hop, and other popular genres from their multicultural roots to the digital world of the twenty-first century.

    Purchase a NEW, shrink-wrapped copy of American Popular Music, and receive 60 featured musical selections from the text in MP3 format at no additional cost! MP3 download requires access code shrink-wrapped with all new copies of the text. Good for one use. Code will be void if used.

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