The Bottom Line
- Huge variety of recipes
- Neat features like voice-activated controls and recipe scalability
- Free monthly recipe downloads
- Beautiful photographs
- Recipe ingredient lists are focused on brand-named products
- Available for iPad only
- More than 2,000 recipes included
- Recipes are rated by cost and level of difficulty
- Recipes can be searched by dish, ingredient, theme, cuisine, occasion and brand
- "My Recipe Box" stores favorite recipes
- Tools include conversions, substitutions, shopping list and timers
- Voice command to navigate through recipe and operate timers
- "My notes" section in each recipe
- Additional recipe bundles available for purchase
Guide Review - iCookbook Cooking App
Developers have been slow to introduce cooking related apps for the iPad, but this seems to be changing. And one of the most comprehensively designed ones I've found is the new iCookbook.
This gorgeously designed app has more than 2,000 recipes, with free monthly bundles of 25 recipes available, as well as additional packets available for purchase. Each recipe has a large, attractive photo; a detailed time breakdown that includes prep, cooking and total time; and is rated by cost per serving and level of difficulty. When you're ready to prepare the recipe, different page shows the preparation steps in a large, clear font, with a scrollable ingredient section below. You can either tap the "next button" to move between steps or – and here's where things get interesting – you can activate the Voice Command feature, which will let you use certain commands to navigate the recipe, scroll the ingredient list and operate the three timers. The voice command is a bit sluggish and you have to be really close to the iPad to make yourself understood, but it's still a great feature when you don't want to touch your iPad screen with messy fingers.
There are some other cool tools that make this app stand out. Each recipe has a notes section, helpful if you're the type of person who marks up cookbooks with comments and changes you've made. By clicking a plus or minus button, you can scale the ingredient quantities for more or fewer servings. There's also a recipe box to save favorites, a meal builder to plan a dinner party. A conversions section is full of valuable charts, such as the metric volume and centimeter measurements of various baking pans, dry and liquid volume measurement conversion charts, and Fahrenheit and Celsius oven temperature comparisons. There's also a substitution list, and a blank template so you can add your own recipe.
iCookbook has its flaws, however, and the biggest one might be a dealbreaker for many home cooks: It's created by Publications International, a publishing company known for its brand-centric cookbooks. So it's no surprise that each recipe in iCookbook features brand-name ingredients from major food and kitchenware brands like Campbell's, Heinz, Hershey's and Crock-Pot. Of course, no one says you have to use Stonyfield Farm brand yogurt to make the Summer Quiche; most of the products are pretty mainstream and can be easily substituted for your own favorite brands. Another pet peeve: while the recipes are nicely searchable by dish, ingredient, theme, cuisine and, yes, brand, each time you do a search, a "filter" is set and you have to make sure to turn off the filter before doing another search.
These complaints, however, are minor compared to the intuitive design and wealth of recipes, all for a rather reasonable purchase price. You can purchase iCookbook in the Apple App Store.