Holiday Entertaining is Fun Again Thanks to Food 52′s Holiday Recipes – iPad App Review

Don’t be fooled by its no-frills app icon, Holiday Recipes & Party Planning is a powerhouse of beautifully presented recipes and useful checklists. Based on their popular Food 52 blog, authors (and former NYT food writers) Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs joined with Open Air Publishing (creator of Better Books like Speakeasy Cocktails) and Inkling (The Professional Chef) to create this swoon-worthy cookbook that will excite even the most discriminating home cooks, while also tossing the rest of us a much-needed life raft this holiday season.

Even better, Food 52′s Holiday Recipes includes 127 top-notch recipes that aren’t just for Christmas. The app suggests menus for Hanukkah, as well as other celebrations from the Super Bowl to Thanksgiving. With its attention to vegetarians, vegans, and the gluten intolerant, there are offerings to suit nearly every taste. There are also hours of video tutorials and hundreds of stunning photographs to supplement the recipes.

Upon opening the app for the first time, users are asked to log in with Inkling to unlock the ability to access the book on Inkling’s website. The app offers a brief tutorial that shows the user how to navigate the app as well as how to add notes and highlights.

Food 52 is a new cooking entity that acts like a hybrid of the staid approach found in many print cookbooks and the looser, more colloquial approach often used in food blogging. Its content is fresh and approachable, yet still authoritative. Suggestions for Christmas dinner include three kinds of soup, four green salads, six meat dishes (lamb, duck, ham, beef), a fish option, grain-based sides from pasta to farro, and more delicious desserts than any one family could possible eat.

Each recipe includes a step-by-step sideshow, as well as an ingredient list, and traditional written instructions.

The app’s recipes are ordered in traditional categories (drinks to dessert), followed by a cooking, baking, and drinks tips. The entertainment tips offer menu suggestions for special occasion dinners and brunches that include vegetarian and Kosher options and life saving lists that teach readers about defrosting a turkey or reheating leftovers.

Contributed by the authors, as well as reader/contributors of Food 52, these tips draw on the wisdom of the hive-mind to offer readers more than just one approach to creating home made gifts or saving an overcooked turkey.

Plus there’s a bonus chapter that walks you through building an entire gingerbread house? Yes, please. While I may want help building a Gingerbread House I need help deciding what to cook for Christmas dinner and figuring out how to make decent gravy. Food 52′s one app addresses all of these needs.

What I liked: Food 52 treads the line between offering recipes worthy of a special occasion and those that are outrageously difficult to pull off rather well. Cooks will find recipes that most of us can actually tackle. Don’t worry, if you get stuck, there’s always the Food 52 hotline, which users can access without leaving the app.

What I didn’t like: Nothing!

To buy or not to buy: Food 52′s Holiday Recipes & Party Planning is a must-own title for home cooks of any skill level. This smart, comprehensive cooking app has the potential to be one of the first true classics of the post-print cookbook era.

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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