Obviously, cookbooks have a come a long way since the days of Betty Crocker and Julia Child. No longer limited to paper and ink, they can now be viewed on smartphones and iPads. But now, a fresh generation of authors is creating richer, more interactive culinary experiences, serving up their digital recipes with a side of video tutorials, interactive navigation, audio tracks, and more.
Ready to dive into cooking 2.0? Here are a few of my favorite cookbooks with unique digital twists.
Available for iPad, $12.99
This creative, digitally enhanced cookbook written by culinary brothers Max and Eli Sussman includes step-by-step guides for cooking techniques, behind-the-scenes audio interviews and photo shoots, and even music to enjoy with your food. The chapters are organized by meals and events, like “Lazy Brunch,” “Midnight Snacks,” and “Night In,” and in addition to recipes, give tutorials for important skills like home-making bacon.
The audio tracks littered throughout the e-book are used by the authors to give fun background tidbits and share the stories behind the recipes. This desire to share a bit of themselves through their recipes was, in fact, a big factor in Max and Eli’s decision to create an e-book.
But the feature that really makes this book shine is the iTunes playlists tailored for each menu—they’re embedded in the cookbook and allow you to purchase the songs directly from iTunes. Why include music in a book about food? According to Max, “Music and food are really tied together—it’s hard to imagine one without the other. We always listen to music when we cook and it just came naturally to us to put the two together.”
Available for iPhone and iPad, $49.99 for the complete book, individual chapters $2.99
The 1,000+ page print version of The Professional Chef is known as “the bible for all chefs” and is an assigned culinary textbook at The Culinary Institute of America. The digital version, Pro Chef, brings that wisdom of classically trained chefs to a whole new audience. While the traditional version was limited to telling you how to master the cooking techniques, the digital version takes advantage of technologies to show you—including 100 video tutorials, 175 diagrams, and 750 beautiful photos.
The interactive navigation is great—and a good example of how going digital can be uniquely useful. If you don’t know the name of a recipe and try to find it in the hardcover index, you’re out of luck. But with the electronic version, searching by any ingredient is a breeze. Cooks who like to scrawl in the margins will have fun with this book, too, as you can easily make electronic notes. As another added bonus, you can bookmark your favorite recipes for easy access later.
But my favorite thing about the digital version of Pro Chef: the chapters are available to purchase individually—great for saving money and space on skills you’ve already mastered.
Available for iPhone, iPad, and web, $4.99
Wine is a vital part of the foodie world, but those of us who want to start learning about wine are often intimidated by its complexities. Marnie Old, author of Wine Simplified, aims to make learning easy, and she’s taking advantage of digital technology to help with that goal.
Using slideshows and virtual tours, she takes readers on guided wine tastings throughout this e-book. There are captivating illustrations that teach you about the best food and wine pairings, as well as video demos of wine-related skills, like opening bottles like a pro.
Another bonus? The embedded links in the text make learning wine lingo easy. Unlike a traditional print book, where the glossary terms are usually explained separately at the beginning of a chapter, Wine Simplified has glossary terms embedded right in the text. If you stumble onto an unfamiliar term, simply click the link for an explanation. Better yet, listen to an audio pronunciation for especially tricky words (Mourvèdre, anyone?)—perfect for impressing fellow foodies at your next dinner party.