Stuck somewhere you can't find good bread? Whip out your iPhone and get a recipe and the how-to from chef's chef Michael Ruhlman, a longtime collaborator of Thomas Keller's, among other top chefs, and author of several highly regarded cookbooks. A master of precision, he has a highly original mind.
This app works in a unique way, generating bread recipes based on what you want to make and how your kitchen is equipped. Tap "Preferences" and select how you want to mix the dough (with a mixer or by hand) and how you want your units displayed (grams, ounces, cups). Tap the "Ingredients" button and choose the kind of bread you want to make and how many loaves, then tap "Step-by-Step" and, voilà, up pops "an illustrated personalized recipe for fabulous bread." Yes, but what can you make? A simple country loaf, ciabatta, sourdough baguette, whole-wheat boule, pizza dough and more. He's also added recipes for no-knead bread, which, if you haven't tried it, is the easiest way to get into baking bread. With that one under your belt, you'll want to try more — much more.
For iPhone, iPad and Kindle Fire, $1.99, from Ruhlman Enterprises, 12 MB.
How to Cook Everything
This is kind of amazing. One little app (more like an enhanced e-book) holds all of Mark Bittman's massive cookbook on your iPhone or iPad. The conventional book weighs about 41/2 pounds. Now, if you find yourself marooned on an island in Greece and want to know how to cook a whole fish or braise squid, or have a sudden urge to try a chocolate soufflé in the middle of the night, all you need is this app. Here, in one place, are about 2,000 recipes from the New York Times food columnist. I like that, unlike a regular book, this one can be updated, and he adds or highlights content weekly to feature seasonal recipes. Right now, it's holiday menus. Recipes are concise and clear, and you can refer to extensive sections on techniques, ingredients, equipment and the basics. The how-to section is illustrated with detailed drawings of each technique. No videos and very few photographs.
Check "Bittman's Picks" for the top 100 fast recipes or make-ahead recipes or vegetarian recipes. Users of the app get to vote on recipes too, so chances are the highest-ranking dishes are good bets. No. 1? Something called "boiled water."
For iPhone, $4.99 and iPad, $9.99, from Culinate, 27.8 MB. Also, Vegetarian How to Cook Everything.
This may be my favorite among these apps. A master cocktail course from two of New York's finest mixologists, Jim Meehan (PDT) and Joseph Schwartz (Little Branch). Speakeasy Cocktails offers concise and incisive information regarding top bartenders' tools and techniques, plus fun, quirky videos for those mixologist tricks hard to fathom from a book. I learned how to flame an orange, make a lemon twist and garnish an egg white-topped drink — and that an atomizer is the easiest way to apply potent ingredients with a light touch.
Start with the seven master drinks and then move on to cocktails based on each spirit, divided into "rediscovered classics" and "new standards." These guys are plugged into the neo-speak-easy generation of mix maestros from around the country, whom they've persuaded to divulge some of their best recipes. Buttons within each recipe take you directly to discourses on pieces of equipment, a bit of cocktail history or a video demonstrating muddling, say.
This is everything the budding amateur mixologist needs to know to delve into handcrafted cocktails — the best gear, how to stock your bar, how to make ice. $9.99 may seem steep for an app, but at most bars, that won't even buy you a cocktail. Plus, the app includes a world map of the best secret cocktail lounges. Brilliant.
For iPhone and iPad, $9.99, from Open Air Publishing, 386 MB; how-to guide and recipes also available individually, $4.99.