When Cookbooks Aren’t In The Budget - TheStreet

The value of a cookbook goes beyond glossy photos and armchair reading. Recipes that make it into print have been developed, rigorously cross-tested and painstakingly formatted by culinary professionals, whose integrity is packaged with the published text.

But, with time and money in short supply, the net has become an increasingly popular source for fast, free recipes; and there are certainly plenty to choose from. So, among the millions of indiscriminate recipes floating in the cyber-soup, how do you know which to spoon-up?

Basic websites, like Allrecipes.com and Cooks.com, index thousands of recipes posted by fellow formula hunters. But with no oversight, or submission standards, you’re gambling with dinner. For the best results, pay heed to user commentary. The ratings and reviews of those who have gone before you act as a virtual recipe-testing forum and provide the type of insider insights that make cookbook recipes invaluable.

Food Boards and Brands:
Organizations like the American Egg Board represent a swath of common producers or growers. In this interest, Food Boards often employ top chefs to create recipes showcasing the relevant foods. These quality, test-driven, recipes are free for the taking, if you know where to look.

  • American Egg Board (www.aeb.org)
  • California Tree Fruit Agreement (www.eatcaliforniafruit.com)
  • National Honey Board (www.honey.com)
  • National Pork Board (www.pork.org)

Want to whip up a batch of oatmeal cookies? What better place to start than Quakeroats.com? Companies spend heaps of time and money testing product performance and developing recipes that highlight the branded ingredient. The fruit of their labor is only a click away.

  • Frank’s Red Hot (www.franksredhot.com)
  • Newman’s Own (www.newmansown.com)
  • Nestle Tollhouse (www.verybestbaking.com)

In the Papers:
Food may not be a newspapers main dish, but recipes don’t need to be the centerpiece of a website in order to steal the show. Food sections of major newspapers are chock-full of hip and competent recipes. Reports on culinary trends, popular restaurants and new cookbooks often include recipes straight from the source. So, loose that sticky folder of clippings and let the net catalogue these gems for you.

This year, the Washington Post won the James Beard award for best newspaper food section.

GourmetSpot.com: Click on the “Newspaper Sections” tab for a convenient list of links to every major newspaper food section.

More and more, professional foodies are using personal websites to chronicle their culinary adventures. Some blogs, like Chocolate&Zucchini and 101Cookbooks, have even matured into actual cookbooks. When sourcing recipes from blogs, the key is to establish a rapport with a handful of trusted bloggers, whose work you’ve tried and enjoyed. Here are a few of my faves.

  • SmittenKitchen.com
    A generous helping of refined, yet fuss-free, comfort food alongside cookbook quality prose and photography.
  • SimplyRecipes.com
    A custom version of the omnivorous user-generated sites, in which blogger, Elise Bauer and family have personally tested every recipe.
  • 101Cookbooks.com
    Ever wish you could put your entire cookbook collection online? Well, Heidi Swanson has done it for you.
  • DorieGreenspan.com
    Decorated food writer and cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan, shares her musings and her coveted recipes.

Search Engines:
Rather than start with an all-encompassing engine, like Google, refine your recipe foraging with these food focused web directories.

  • Chef2Chef.com
    Let their discriminating taste inform yours.
  • GourmetSleuth.com
    In addition to publishing culinary articles and "how to" recipes, these web detectives surf the surfeit of foodie web sites and catalogue for your convenience.
  • GourmetSpot.com
    Informed editors sift the web to find quality culinary content.

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