Need to convert ingredient quantities or learn how to make a mean martini? There are apps for that and more.
When I first got my iPhone, I was thrilled to discover Convertbot, which made it fun and easy to convert ingredient quantities or temperatures from my British cookbooks. That app, it turned out, was just a taste of the onslaught of food and wine apps to come - so many you'd have to be a full-time app tester to try them all out. (Unfortunately, I have another job.)
But I do try a lot. Here are apps for the iPhone that I've found most useful. Several are also available on the Android platform.
OpenTable (OpenTable Inc.), Free, for iPhone and Android. Make restaurant reservations from anywhere with this easy-to-use app. Easy as pie to get a confirmed res. And just as easy to cancel as to make one. No more excuses for being a no-show.
How to Cook Everything (Culinate Inc.), $4.99, for iPhone. Though a free How to Cook Everything Essentials app exists (with 107 recipes), spring for the paid app based on New York Times' columnist Mark Bittman's bestselling book. It's like having that giant tome in your pocket - all 2,000 recipes - to consult on a whim or in an emergency. At the market and stumped for what to cook? Look it up, find a recipe and, with one click, unload the ingredients into a shopping list. Great design, easy to read and use. Nifty feature: timers included within the recipe. Check out Bittman's Picks, the author's list of favorite recipes from various categories.
Ratio (Ruhlman Enterprises Inc.), $4.99, for iPhone and Android. This one is based on Michael Ruhlman's book Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. Keep this baby close and you can wing it almost anywhere, recipe-free. On vacation and yearning to make biscuits or brine a pork loin? Whip out this app and you can calculate proportions of ingredients needed. Most useful: Ruhlman's suggested variations on a theme and the ability to save your notes on what worked - or didn't. In the works: a dedicated baking app.
Cook's (America's Test Kitchen), Free, For iPhone. From Cook's Illustrated magazine, this collection of recipes may be free, but unless you become a member of CooksIllustrated.com for a $34.95 annual fee, you won't be able to unlock the majority of it. You'll also miss a number of the magazine's handy taste tests of ingredients. Try it with a free one-day pass. Recipes are all thoroughly tested in consummate Cook's Illustrated style, which means you won't be wasting time with any duds. Stronger on regional American cooking than any more exotic cuisines. A plus: a shopping list feature and clean, easy-to-navigate design.
Recipe Box Sync (Epicurious), $1.99, for iPhone. Epicurious Recipes lets you search 25,000 recipes from the archives of Bon Appetit and the late Gourmet. The range of recipes is broad, and if you're stuck for a recipe for Jerusalem artichokes or kohlrabi, you'll surely find something here. Search by main ingredient, course, cuisine or season. A wonderful resource when you don't have your library of cookbooks nearby. You can also save favorites to a folder and dump ingredients into a shopping list.
And the new Recipe Box Sync The Recipe Box Sync interfaces with the free app for a one-time upgrade of $1.99.
Convertbot (Tapbots), $0.99, for iPhone. Clever app that converts weight, volume, temperature and much more from one measurement to another. Fast and elegant.
Vintage Chart+ by Wine Spectator (Wine Spectator Custom), Free, for iPhone. For those who encounter a situation frequently (as with high-end wine lists) in which they need to check or compare wine vintages, this is the app for you. Wine Spectator gets it right with this elegantly designed application. Search by country or region, or both, but more fun, by zooming in on a topographic world map - Anderson Valley, Douro, South Africa. As for accuracy, vintage info is based on hundreds, if not thousands, of tastings by the wine magazine's staff over a number of years, distilled into a sentence or two.
Craft Beer App (Xtreme Labs), $0.99, for iPhone. Explore American craft beers with this crafty app. I immediately looked up Allagash Tripel Reserve and found detailed info and tasting notes, including the recommended serving temp (40 to 50 degrees). A beer expert might quibble with the choices and notes, but budding beer lovers will find it useful. And it costs less than a few sips of beer.
In The Kitchen App (Food Network), $1.99, for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Access 45,000 Food Network recipes, each with photos. Updated monthly with seasonal recipes. On and offline timers; a unit converter assists with measurements. Recipe box function saves favorites and swaps with users' FoodNetwork.com online favs.
Mario Batali Cooks! (High Five Labs), $2.99, for Android and iPhone. Contains 63 of Batali's most requested recipes, each with video and still images of the chef cooking them. Also, 25 videos of kitchen techniques. Browse recipes by region, course, prep-time, season, category of food or kid-friendliness. Intuitive bookmarking feature lets users cook more than one recipe at a time. Built in timers. Food pairings and wine pairings.
Martha Stewart Makes Cookies, $4.99, for iPad. Includes 50 recipes divided into eight categories, including those "for traditionalists," "for little ones," "for hedonists" and more. Produced by Callaway Digital Arts in association with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., features include a timer, shopping list and videos.