Bittman is perhaps best known as the author of The Minimalist, The New York Times cooking column he wrote for 13 years. But, as the name of this app (taken from his bestselling cookbook) suggests, minimalism applies only to his uncomplicated instructions and ingredients, not to his ambitions of providing a maximum number of food choices. Indeed, this $9.99 iPad app contains 2,000 recipes, covering literally everything from soup (lobster bisque, gazpacho, and dozens more) to nuts (bacon-nut stuffing, caramelized spiced nuts, pistachio shortbread, ad infinitum). There are also 400 how-to illustrations which explain techniques as varied as carving prime rib, peeling shrimp and preparing lemongrass. A slightly less optimized version of the app for iPhone will set you back just $4.99.
With such a massive amount of content, the risk of getting lost in a never-ending scroll of menu options is great, but fortunately the indexing and navigational interface have been well thought out, making the browsing experience a joy. You can do a keyword search for, let’s say, tomato, which results in over 200 recipes. But then limit it to a key ingredient (beef), select a technique (braise) and voila, there’s pot roast with tomatoes and rosemary. One can also select from a collection of the chef’s favorite picks, or from a lengthy list of quick dinners. Less useful is an audio enhanced slideshow featuring random Bittman quotations. It feels strangely out of place, and occupies an inordinate amount of the home screen.
Each recipe contains several interactive features which are brilliant in their simplicity. Tap on a cooking time and a pre-set timer instantly pops up to count down the minutes. Tap the grocery cart icon and all the recipe ingredients are automatically published to your grocery list which can then be printed or emailed. There are also some social features, including a list of most popular recipes, i.e. the ones favorited by the most users of the app. And there is Facebook and Twitter integration, for broadcasting what dish you’re cooking. It also broadcasts the link where the app can be purchased but hey, a guy’s gotta eat.