Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recipe Roll-Call

Julia Child 1970                                  Image: Paul Child

Do you ever find yourself turning to your laptop for recipes and ideas more than to your cookbooks? I have oodles of recipes that I have printed off of the web over the years tucked in a basket in my pantry and more often than not, I simply pull up a recipe online and bring the laptop into the kitchen. My poor cookbooks are rarely opened anymore.

The great benefit to online recipes is that you can search by ingredient and because there are so many variations, you will almost always be able to find a version that includes what you have on hand. The other great tool are the sites that let you know what ingredients can be substituted and with what.

The downside of using google is that many of the recipes are untested and can be posted by anyone. You need some sense of how the recipe should work and what results you want ahead of time so that you can pick out the right one.

Here are a few of my go-to resources:

DIY Rating: 5

The great advantage to the Williams-Sonoma site is that they provide entire menus for holidays and special occasions, so it is a great starting place if you need ideas for a special meal. You can search by ingredient or course. It is also a great way to figure out what all those weird do-hickeys you got as wedding presents do. The main point of the site is to provide recipes that use the specialty tools and ingredients that are sold through the stores. That being said, I have tried out a number of recipes and most of the time, they can be made without the exact equipment or ingredients. The results have always been amazing but these recipes are not for the faint of heart as they are usually complicated and/or time consuming.

DIY Rating: 5

Martha is not kidding when she comments that she expects perfection. Hundreds of recipes and menus and loads of beautiful photographs but DIY'er beware! I have so far been caught by a recipe for gingerbread cookies that took over five hours for one batch and an attempt at hazelnut gelato that became a three day project. Martha has a team of people to perfect and style her recipes. They are usually delicious and beautiful but some are not for the novice.

DIY Rating: 8

This is my go to site for all things "cookie". I have made almost all of the Christmas cookie recipes and they are champions. The recipes are straightforward and uncomplicated, the pictures are pretty and the results tend to be quite good and only require a moderate level of baking know-how.

DIY Rating: 9

An excellent site for beginning chefs. You do not need to subscribe to the magazine to be able to access the recipes online, though it is usually through the magazine that I first read about the recipes. They have a good ingredient search function so you can plan dinner around what is in the house. The recipes tend to be simplified versions of otherwise more complicated dishes. This is where my husband looks when he has to make dinner. The "Meals in Minutes" recipes have been tried in our test kitchen many times and live up to their promise of delicious, nutritious and quick.

Cooking and baking definitely count as something worth doing yourself and I look forward to sharing some of the recipes that we make here in the future.

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