How to Cook Everything Essentials
For many of us, Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything is the all-purpose bible that the Joy of Cooking was to previous generations. And, as the Apple folk like to say, there's an (iPhone/iPod/iPad-only) app for that. The free version, called How to Cook Everything Essentials, is limited to 102 recipes, making it a nice way to kick the tires. If you're a serious chef, you'll want the $1.99 full app with 2,000 recipes and all the bells and whistles enabled. These include themed collections (Top 100 Make-Ahead Recipes, 22 Whole-Meal Soups, etc.), detailed explanations of techniques and ingredients, and a listing of users' favorite dishes from the collection.
Finally, our favorite mad scientists of the kitchen have a sort-of-free iPhone app that's worth a look. The creators of Cook's Illustrated magazine and the popular PBS cooking shows America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country, go through exhaustive experimentation, exploring numerous ingredient and cooking technique combinations to come up with optimized recipes that work very well, even for cooks with average ability.
They've created a Cook's Illustrated app with 50 kitchen-tested favorites, along with videos for each recipe, a customizable shopping list feature, email and Facebook sharing, and taste test results for dozens of supermarket ingredients. Of course, 50 recipes won't take you very far, but if they whet your appetite, you can sign up for access to the full catalog, available via CooksIllustrated.com or via the app, for $35 a year. We figure $3 a month is a reasonable price for this level of expert assistance.