10 recipe apps to help you cook up memorable meals
They said the kitchen was the last bastion of the book; that waterphobic, grease-shy computers would never penetrate its steamy walls. Well, they were wrong; last year a survey by the recipe website allrecipes.com found that 44 percent of respondents claimed digital media was their cooking resource of choice â and I have to admit, I'm among them.
I do still love my enormous cookbook collection; tablets don't tend to take so kindly to being splattered with tomato sauce, but they do have certain advantages. For a start, the cleverest apps take on the boring bits of cooking: doing the maths to scale up that lasagna for four to feed a party of six, for example, and then making a shopping list.
Many of them will even sync across devices, so the list on your tablet will also pop up on your smartphone in the supermarket.
Best of all is the interactivity. Puzzled by exactly how fine finely diced carrots are, or indeed the quickest way to produce them? Click on the related knife-skills video for a tutorial from an expert. Just remember to wash your hands first.
Saveur magazine, iOS, Android, free
Or, in fact food magazines in general: British â and delicious â Olive, Jamie and BBC Good Food all have their own apps, but the real treat for me is flicking through my favorite glossy American food titles without having to pay for transatlantic postage. Sweet potato pie, here I come.
How to Cook Everything Essentials, iOS, free
Mark Bittman, a James Beard award-winning former New York Times food columnist, provides 2,000 recipes for everything from a basic tomato sauce to octopus with tomatoes and red wine, plus cross-referenced advice on equipment and techniques. Unlike some American apps, this is happily fully metric.
Great British chefs, iOS, Windows, free
One of my favorite websites comes in a variety of stylish mobile forms (including a great cooking with kids version) and includes recipes from some of the country's finest chefs, beautifully photographed. It also includes a handy shopping list function so you don't forget the fleur de sel or the tonka beans.
Paprika, iOS, Android, $4.99
Replace that sheaf of recipes fluttering forlornly from the fridge magnet with this clever electronic manager, which collates all that inspiration in one place. Features include built-in timers, a screen lock so it doesn't switch off in the middle of something and seamless cloud sync across devices.
myfitnesspal, iOS, Android, free
An invaluable free resource for anyone who overdid it at Christmas; with over 3 million foods in the database (some entries are more reliable than others), it's a handy way to keep track of calories. Though I wish I didn't know that 1 tsp olive oil contains 40 of the damn things.
Jamie Oliver, iOS, Android, free
Jamie's embraced the digital revolution with characteristic enthusiasm; his free app gives you 10 recipes and six videos every month, while subscribers can download collections like money-saving meals. Great interactive photos and tips â though slightly unnerving to have Jamie piping up from nowhere.
The perfect egg timer, iOS, Android, $.99
Even food writers aren't always on the ball at breakfast time. This unashamedly simple app, which also comes in a steak version, takes into account temperature, altitude and egg diameter to guarantee you your perfect egg, every time. Genius.
Modernist cuisine at home, iOS, $79.99
OK, so this gorgeous paean to cutting-edge cuisine doesn't come cheap, but bear in mind the book's a cool Â£100, and this has 260 more fiendishly precise recipes and 359 more stunning photos, plus videos, recipe scaling and a shopping list function, and suddenly it seems like quite good value really.
The Good Fish Guide, iOS, Android, free
If you can never remember whether eating sea bream will see you eternally damned to environmental hell, then this Marine Conservation Society app should salve your conscience considerably. Almost every fish you're likely to come across in this country is classified as either an eat or an avoid. No excuses.
Riverford veg recipes, iOS, free
Those who started the year vowing to eat more greens will find this excellent app from the organic vegbox scheme a godsend. It includes nearly 800 recipes, plus storage and preparation tips and a surprisingly fun fruit (veg?) machine-style search tool children will love.