Cook’s Encyclopedia ($9.99, universal)
The Cook’s Encyclopedia app contains a wealth of information, though it could be laid out in a more logical fashion. It is indeed an encyclopedia, with ten to 25 recipes or entries per chapter, which range from egg dishes and salads to saltwater fish and poultry, wild game to desserts. There truly is something here for everyone, and I like how each recipe is well photographed, with step-by-step illustrations. Each recipe also features an ingredient list with US and metric measurements. You can mark particular recipes as your favorite or email it to someone else if you would like to share.
It would have been better if the entries relating to basic cooking techniques were in their own chapter, instead of being mixed in with all of the recipes, but that is a minor point. I like the food glossary, which includes basic cooking times, tips, suggestions, and interesting facts. There is a good mix here, with some of the entries being good for those who can’t cook to unfamiliar dishes that are sure to become new favorites in the future.
Cor.kz Wine Info ($3.99, universal)
The Cor.kz Wine Info database helps you track your collection and discover new wines to try. You can browse by region or by varietal, or search for a specific wine by using the search box. Once you focus in on a specific wine, you can email the details, add it to a comparison graph with other wines, and read user ratings to learn more about the wine and determine whether or not you want to try it.
A wine encyclopedia defines an extensive array of wine-related terms, though I was surprised to see quite a few misspellings throughout the database. If you want to turn your hobby into a more social one, Cor.kz optionally connects to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. I was disappointed to see that the app doesn’t offer any sort of wine pairing suggestions. Cor.kz is a good app, but is more geared toward serious wine aficionados than to those just starting out with the hobby.
Culinary Fundamentals HD ($4.99, also available for iPhone)
Are you serious about moving up to the next level in your cooking? Do you long to produce food as beautiful as the dishes you see on TV? If so, check out Culinary Fundamentals, which is designed to teach you everything you need to know about cooking basics, food preparation, and precision knife cuts. This isn’t a recipe app or even a book about cooking techniques. Instead, Culinary Fundamentals HD is a collection of more than 260 professionally produced and narrated videos that cover a wide range of topics. They’re fairly short, around 20 seconds to roughly two minutes, but they impart information in a streamlined fashion without wasting your time.
You will need an Internet connection to use the app, because the videos must be downloaded in order to watch them; they aren’t automatically installed with the app. After the first viewing they are cached on your iPad. You can also mark favorites so that you can find them quickly, and a handy check mark shows which ones you have already watched. It’s a great idea for people like me, who literally can’t boil water, though I would have liked to see deeper coverage on more everyday topics; many of the videos are way out of my league as a beginning home cook.
Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List (Free, universal)
The Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List app has three main sections, with featured recipes and a search function that allows you to search by ingredient, course, cuisine, even dietary considerations (like low fat, vegetarian, or gluten-free. Each recipe can be marked as a favorite, added to your shopping list, or shared via email. The individual entries feature large print (you have your choice of three font sizes) with clearly defined ingredient lists and instructions. User reviews are available, but don’t take center stage, saving valuable screen real estate for the instructions.
Recipes can be marked as favorites, and one tap adds everything you need to your shopping list. Even better, the app has a combined shopping list feature, so that if you’re making multiple recipes with the same ingredients, Epicurious will do the math for you. One of my favorite little touches is the marker that you can move from line to line when you’re making the recipe, so you’ll never lose your place.
If you can have just one cooking app on your iPad, Epicurious is the one to get. It offers an unbelievable wealth of content, but it’s free and universal, so it works on your iPhone too. Well organized and highly refined, Epicurious can help you discover great new recipes and make you into a genius in the kitchen. Top recommendation.
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