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Recipes from My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food from the Winner of MasterChef Season 3 on FOX(TM) Hardcover – May 14, 2013

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Editorial Reviews Review

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
Christine Ha

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.

About the Author

Christine Ha is the winner of Season Three of MasterChef. Legally blind, she wants her skill to inspire others with disabilities that anything is possible. She lives in Houston, where she is completing an MFA in creative writing at The University of Houston.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1623360943
  • ISBN-13: 978-1623360948
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.8 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (253 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 98 people found the following review helpful By FourCats on May 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have purchased numerous cookbooks just to end up giving them away because of my disappointment in the contents. Christine Ha's "Recipes from My Home Kitchen" is a keeper! Not only are her recipes uncomplicated and appetizing, her written narrative provides a wonderful context in which I understand her culinary perspective. I am a southern cook who is a fan of Asian cuisine so this book truly relates to my interests. This is remarkable book by an equally remarkable woman.
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74 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Chuck H. on May 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I gave up watching MasterChef after season 2 and when I heard about a Blind Chef on 3 that was of ethnic origin, I couldn't help but watch at least the first episode. It was inspiring through and through and made huge waves in our local Vietnamese community, radio station, and newspapers. The book is beautifully illustrated and stays mostly true to our ethnic cuisine. Really traditional Vietnamese moms might say the Vietnamese recipes in this text stray slightly away from classic dishes, but I think because this text is geared toward a more Western audience, the slight deviations work in its favor, making meals cooked from this book more in tune with Western tastes. But seriously, you could enjoy anything in here, regardless of your ethnic upbringing. I just wish there was a way to get this thing autographed ... been years since I've been so enthralled in someone's life story like this.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I LOVE Christine Ha when she was on MasterChef and I was very excited for her cookbook to come out. I have tried a lot of the Vietnamese dishes (the braised catfish is to die for!), the Korean barbeque ribs (Galbi), was excellent and the pizza (yummy) and the fried chicken (fabulous). I haven't had to adjust the seasoning on anything, it's just perfect the way it is written. I think this is going to be one of those cookbooks that you can make virtually anything in the book and it will turn out just wonderfully. This is a comfort food cookbook and I think people who are expecting some fancy Asian fusion cookbook using fancy techniques or exotic ingredients will be disappointed. The recipes are simple, using simple ingredients, prepared simply but tastes wonderful. I admit, coconut soda was kind of hard to find in my area but I found it in a small Mexican grocer. I think this cookbook has the perfect mix of Vietnamese, Korean and other Asian dishes as well as some wonderful American classics. I am Asian myself but I was born here and my parents immigrated here from China and we ate Chinese comfort food and American comfort food all the time so I appreciate the blend of the two cultures in one cookbook. All in all, this is a great cookbook and will be very well used in years to come!

Note: on the Braised catfish recipe, she refers to the savory sauce (recipe near the back of the book) which is used in the recipe but the amount to be used in the catfish recipe is not specified. The savory sauce recipe itself is 1 c. sugar and 1 c. water so it makes quite a bit of sauce. Anyone with basic cooking skills will realize that no way would you use ALL of this sauce in the Braised catfish recipe so it must be "to taste" although the recipe does not say this.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth on June 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Made fried rice the first day after the book arrived. Her recipes are user friendly. She gives you additional information about where to get certain ingredients, what they are, and why they're used. Her book is personal and nicely written. It's funny because just before this book arrived as a gift for my husband, he said he wanted the Master Chef book with Gordon Ramsey on the cover, so I thought he was going to be disappointed. He was not at all. Also, I had thought it a mistake to get the hardback instead of the Kindle Version, until I received the book. Sorry Techies, but nothing compares to the feel of the smooth quality paper, the vivid colors and life to the pictures, or the ability to flip the pages from glossary to menu, glimpsing the pictures of mouth watering recipes we hope to try out very soon!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Christine HA, the winner of MasterChef, Season 3 on Fox delivers much more than a cookbook. What a delightful surprise to receive yesterday morning, and I enjoyed very much to read this page-turner in preparation for my selections. Chaper 1 are the SNACKS AND STARTERS; Chapter 2 is A BOWL OF COMFORT; Chapter 3 is FROM MY MAMA's KITCHEN; Chapter 4 is WESTERN CLASSICS; Chapter 5 is FOOD FOR CASUAL GATHERINGS; Chapter 6 is ON THE SIDE; Chapter 7 is SOMETHING SWEET; and Chapter 8 is A STOCK, SAUCES, VINAIGRETTES,AND SEASONINGS. Christine HA uses her heightened senses of taste, touch, smell, and sound and is the first-time evercontestant in a cooking competition. After tragically losing her sight in her twenties, she became the extraordinary winner of MasterChef. In this collection, she includes delicious recipes for both Asian and American dishes.One of my selections will be the BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN, but there are several I'm anxious to try. The HUMBLE APPLE PIE is my daughter's next selection, and I can't wait to try the PORK BELLY SLIDERS, and the GINGER-COCONUT TUILES. With this mouth-watering recipe, she also includes a simple syrup recipe for this dessert. Included in this exciting cookbook are colorful photos, not for every recipe, but there are several stunning photos of prepared, cooked recipes. In addition, the author includes inspiring stories about her upbringing, and sharing her mother's recipes. My daughter has already selected the CANDIED BACON, a recipe we never tasted, and easy-to-prepare. Some of her recipes include:PENNE WITH VODKA SAUCE; SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS; PERFECT SPAGHETTI SAUCE; BAKED ZITI; CHICKEN POT PIE; PULLED PORK SANDWICHES; MEAT LOAF; MUSHROOM AND ONION BURGERS; and more.Read more ›
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