Review: How to Cook Everything, by Culinate Inc (universal binary)
How to Cook Everything, by Culinate, Inc.
- Lots of recipes
- Tips and hints for the kitchen novice
- Built in shopping list generator
- Robust search feature
- Universal binary
- Lacks lots of pictures or images, which can be useful with some of the tips and recipes
- Lacks some obvious tools (like a timer)
To start, “How to Cook Everything” can’t be taken literally. While this app is a full featured kitchen aid, it does not feature “everything”. Having said that, it does have a lot of features and tips, as well as a large number of recipes.
This app is based on a book by Mark Bittman (over 1000 pages) and includes some of the same recipes, tips, and hints about cooking. Since it is an app, it also incudes a variety of digital features including marking certain recipes and favorites or searching for recipes. The recipes themselves are laid out in large, easy to read text, and include a receipt overview, ingredient list, steps for cooking, and then variations on the specific recipes. The overview tells you approximately how long it takes as well as how many servings it makes. All recipes are tagged with four labels – fast, make ahead (can prepare in advance), vegetarian, and essential. When actually cooking, the steps are laid out in an ordered fashion, and you move to the next step when you are ready.
Figure 1. Nice tips and hints, including cooking methods, utensils, and even how to cut in different styles.
Searching recipes is easy, and you can filter search results with ingredients, cooking techniques, food style (origin), and whatever tags you want (fast, make ahead, etc.). While I don’t know how many recipes are in the app, when I did a search for “soup”, 110 results came up. Recipes with a key ingredient of chicken gave 179 recipes. So it appears there are a fair number of included recipes. When you search, recipes appear in red as results, while variations of recipes appear in blue.
Figure 2. Robust search options for main ingredients, recipe tags (like prepare in advance), allow you to find the perfect recipe.
In addition to looking over recipes, you can use this app to create a grocery list, which you can print out or email. You can also check items off the list, so the app can be used in a store as well. With the grocery list option, you can manually add items, but it seems to can manually adjust the automatically added items. This poses a problem if you want to adjust the serving size for a receipt you want to use.
The app also includes various tips and tricks in the kitchen – ranging from commonly use utensils and pots or pans, to various techniques in the kitchen (how to make a calzone, how to cut julienne, etc.). Many of these tips are directly accessible in the recipes themselves – when preparing a pizza, for example, the app has a link to show you how to shape pizza dough.
Figure 3. Recipes are clear and easy to understand, follow step by step instructions, and even include links to relevant tips that may help.
Some of the tips and hints include nice pictures (such as the discussion about cutting), but others do not. It would be nice to see a picture of a specific type of pot, or a video of someone demonstrating a proper technique. Given cooking can be so visual, it is unfortunate that the recipes themselves don’t have any pictures. It would be a nice added feature to have pictures of the recipes are various stages, so you can make sure your recipe is turning out correctly.
Figure 4. A huge number of recipes are available to use, along with variations of those.
The recipes also allow for “online” voting, so as you browse the list, you can see which was received a large number of “thumbs up” votes. If you like a recipe, you can always give it thumbs up as well. You can’t give a receipt a “thumbs down”, so the voting is a little limited. When searching, you can’t sort your search results by how popular a receipt is.
Figure 5. Use recipes to create a shopping list, which you can print or email (or just use the list in the store).
I would like to see some additional functionality included in the app, like the ability to adjust servings, a converter calculator, and add tools that would be useful when cooking. Even something like a timer would be nice.
All in all, this is a rather full features recipe app. With many different recipes, including tips and hints for cooking, the app probably can be useful for many different levels of kitchen skill. With a robust search feature, a built-in shopping list generator, and the ability to rate (or favorite) different recipes, it has many useful features. At $9.99, however, it would be nice to include some addition features – pictures or videos, a timer, and some added functionality to the shopping features. Because of the relatively high cost, I was somewhat disappointed with the features that app DID’T have. Because of that, I give it a three and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. All opinions expressed in this review are precisely that – opinions. You may agree or disagree. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.