The one thing I love about the Internet above all else is that it's an amazing reference tool. I never pick up a dictionary anymore, let alone an encyclopedia. Instead I just search Google, dictionary.com, and the ever-evolving wikipedia.org.
While I love the cookbooks that I have, I find myself browsing the Web more and more for new recipes. The Web makes it easier to keep up with new foodie trends. You can get free recipes from some of the top chefs in the country, and the biggest bonus of them all: real-world pedestrian reviews of the recipe.
This is where the iPhone comes in. Despite popular belief, I am not always in front of a computer. But I always have my iPhone with me. I often find myself browsing for something good to cook for dinner while on my lunch or break at work. My favorite place to browse is Epicurious.com.
Epicurious has a wealth of culinary information on its website. That content is also available in a more streamlined version via its iPhone app. When I'm looking for a recipe, the Epicurious app is the first place I turn to. Thanks to a well-thought-out category browser and refined search function, you can find what you want quickly. You could also spend hours browsing for that perfect dish.
Categories include summer dinners, grilling entrees, and low-fat and healthy lunches. There's even a "I can barely cook" category. If you know exactly what you are looking for or have an ingredient in mind, pull up the search section and type in your keywords.
You can even filter the results based on dietary needs (vegan, raw foods, gluten-free, etc.), cuisine, seasonal/occasion and so on.
The recipe shows how long it should take to prepare, how many servings it will make and all the instructions and ingredients needed. You also get photos of the finished dish (when available), and my favorite - user reviews. (Note: In the mobile app you can read user reviews, but you can't add your own.) In landscape view, you see the recipe one step at a time, making preparation easy to follow.
Once you pick a dish or two, you can add those recipes to your favorites list for future use, use the shopping list for your trip to the grocery store and even e-mail them to your spouse for approval. With the shopping list, you can combine multiple recipes and use the check boxes to mark off items as you acquire them. For a list maker such as myself, this is a blessing.
The Epicurious iPhone app is a must-have for anyone who cooks, whether you're a novice or a professional chef. The best part, it's a free download at the iTunes app store. You may also like the All Recipes and Spark Recipes iPhone apps.
Food allergies can make dining out quite difficult. Cooking at home is always a safe alternative because you have complete control over the foods you make. To make this even easier, there is the Cook It Allergy Free iPhone app.
Because my girlfriend is allergic to wheat, we have to be careful when buying and preparing foods. The Cook It Allergy Free iPhone app helps us find those delicious dishes to prepare. It covers a range of food allergies including egg, dairy, gluten and nuts.
When first opening the app, you are prompted to input your e-mail address to register the app.
There used to be a full registration process in the previous version, but that has been removed; I would like to see them remove the e-mail address requirement altogether.
The home screen has a search box, as well as a list of categories including - but not limited to - newly featured, breads, salads, main dishes, etc. Selecting a category moves you to a section of subcategories, and from there you are presented with a list of recipes.
The recipe has all the usual information including preparation time, how many it serves, ingredients and directions.
There is also a "tips and notes" section where allergen substitutions are listed along with a text box for you to enter your own notes.
As with Epicurious, you can save the recipe to your recipe box, add it to the grocery list and share it via e-mail. Cook It Allergy Free also allows you to share it via Facebook and Twitter.
The grocery list section is fairly robust. It allows you to combine multiple recipes, and you can add in custom items you may need.
You can even edit the pre-populated list to eliminate things you might already have at home, so you only see the things you need to buy. Cook It Allergy Free allows you to sort the list, as well as e-mail it, by aisle or by recipe. It is, however, missing the checklist Epicurious has that allows you to mark off items as you pick them up in the store.
The app includes a tips section that shows you substitutions for things like soy sauce, dairy and eggs. It also lists favorites for things like gluten-free breads and dairy-free cheeses, along with general cooking tips and tricks.
Cook It Allergy Free runs $4.99 in the iTunes app store. You may also like the iEatOut Gluten & Allergen Free app.
If all this food talk is making you thirsty, what better place to turn to than the Mixologist app for the iPhone. In this app, you will find more than 7,900 drink recipes featuring more than 1,300 ingredients.
Mixologist has everything you need to make your friends jealous of your bartending skills. It has a liquor cabinet check-list for alcohol and mixers, bartending tips and tricks, how-to videos streamed from the Web, tools of the trade and even an explanation of glassware.
When you first launch the app, you can browse by "all drinks," drink category or ingredients. You can also view any items you have saved to your favorites, create a customer drink or search for bars and liquor stores near you.
Drink recipes have exact measurements (in either U.S. or metric units) for each type of alcohol needed, along with the type of glassware it should be served in. Below that are the directions on how to make the drink.
You have the option to send the drink recipe to a friend via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter as well as add it to your favorites list.
Mixologist runs 99 cents in the iTunes App Store.
Story published Friday, September 3, 2010 ( Volume 5, Number 5 )