Friday, October 28, 2011
How good are food apps?
If you've got an iPad you've probably been as tempted as me by the avalanche of food apps that you can now download. But how good are they as a way of learning about ingredients, cooking techniques and recipes? I wrote about some shortly after I got my iPad. Here are the apps I've acquired more recently and how I rate them:
Donna Hay ***** (Free - for the moment)
I'd been wondering whether Donna Hay would do an app and now I've seen it can understand why it took so long. this is the most beautiful, sophisticated, mouthwatering on-line magazine around. There are some great interactive sections and some spectacular video effects as a tiered white cake gets covered with pink macarons and a whole ricotta disappears scoop by scoop off a plate. The photography is utterly stunning, the recipes have Hay's trademark style and simplicity. The first issue is free - you're bound to want to buy the second and subsequent ones.
Green Kitchen *** (£2.99)
A very pretty app designed for the iPad with an easy to navigate grid of healthy (and quite hardcore) vegetarian recipes. If I have a criticism it would be that the recipes themselves aren't quite as assured as those from established cookery writers. I like the look of the Baked Pistachio and Herb Felafel and Rustic Potato Pizza, though (rather less so the Bean Brownies . . . ) Green Kitchen also has an equally attractive website.
Baking with Dorie **** £8.99
I'm a big fan of Dorie Greenspan, a baking superstar in the states (and an incredibly nice person) and you can't fault the content of her new app. But with 20 baking lessons and over 100 videos it's a monster to download at the rather sluggish broadband speed we have at home and I lost it altogether when I was updating my iPad software and had to reload it. I'm not sure I wouldn't rather have Dorie in book mode really. (Her best known is Baking: from my home to yours and her latest, which this post has reminded me to order, Around my French Table)
River Cottage Every Day *** (£1.99)
Another iPhone app that doesn't work quite so well on the iPad. It's also annoying that you have to sign up with your personal details once you've downloaded it - presumably so that you get to be on the River Cottage mailing list though if you've paid your money I think you're entitled to instant access to the content. Nice to have ideas for how to use what's in season though and I like the well shot 'how to videos' including how to prepare a pheasant, how to fillet a fish and how to build a wood-fired oven.
My kitchen table * (Free)
A sample selection of recipes from well-loved TV presenters including Mary Berry, Antonio Carluccio and Madhur Jaffrey. Designed for the iPhone and obviously based on their books it doesn't work too well on the iPad and took a fair time to download. Not especially easy to use and there are some weird anomalies like recommending Ainsley's Chilli-glazed mango with yoghurt as a good accompaniment for Antonio's pappardelle with meat sauce. And the shopping lists don't seem to come up yet. Obviously the idea is to get you to buy other apps on the back of it like Mary Berry's My Cakes and Desserts (£1.99) but I'm not sure I'd bother.