Fine Cooking: Cook Fresh – PadGadget iPad Cooking Series

Part of PadGadget’s continuing series “Get Cooking With iPad”

Fine Cooking: Cook Fresh joins Fine Cooking Magazine’s Cooking for the Holidays app as the magazine’s second foray into the App Store. In Cook Fresh the focus is on fresh ingredients that a cook can be prepare with a minimum of fuss.

Although the app shares similarities with Fresh, a cookbook Fine Cooking published in 2009, its layout resembles a high-quality cooking magazine rather than a book. The information is split between newsy recipe-focused articles and a special section called “Make it Tonight. 30 Recipes. 30 Minutes.” Cook Fresh offers users video tutorials, audio clips, and the option to e-mail recipes within each recipe.

The app’s magazine-style table of contents gives an overview of the wide range of content it includes, and a sense of the app’s clean style. Even outside the 30 minute section the recipes included were appropriate for a busy home cook. None of the included recipes required onerous time commitments or exotic ingredients.

Although it lacks both a search function and an index, Cook Fresh lets the user page through thumbnail sized images of its sections. The images below include the portal to the special Make it Tonight section, a story on cooking with oranges, and an article about 10 ways to eat smarter (hint: less meat, more veggies).

Cook Fresh’s recipe archive would be rather limited, at just 70 recipes, if the app did not direct users to Fine Cooking’s online magazine recipe archive. While an internet connection, and a free site registration are required to take advantage of these additional recipes, they do broaden one’s options while browsing through the app trying to decide what to make for dinner. The app is available for download in the App Store for $4.99.

What I liked: Not only were the specific recipes appealing, but the ideas in Cook Fresh were useful, easy to remember, and likely to influence my cooking in the future. The ability access Fine Cooking’s web recipe archive added utility to the Cook Fresh app. Cook Fresh has strong visual appeal and functioned well.

What I didn’t like: A number of the recipes included heavy cream by the cup, so be aware that not every dish is truly “heart smart.” The app is not ad-free. I only found one which advertised something besides Fine Cooking products, but would have preferred there to be none since this is a paid app.

To buy or not to buy: For $4.99, roughly to price of a newsstand cooking mag, users can access a number of straightforward recipes that feature fresh ingredients. The app is aimed at nutritionally-aware users who may be pressed for time when they cook, but still want to try new recipes and flavor combinations. Members of this demographic group will be pleased with the app. Serious foodies or anyone on an all meat-and-potatoes diet might want to look elsewhere.

About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite