We’re continuing our focus on food this week, looking at one of the most popular cookery applications available on the App Store. Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Meals is a wonderfully designed app for finding new recipes, buying the basic ingredients for good cooking, and organising your kitchen.
Today I’ll be investigating 20 Minute Meals and looking at what’s included in the application. Is it worth the high selling price of $7.99? Absolutely. Read on to find out why!
The first, and most obvious, use of this app is to find and try new recipes. All those featured here are fast, quick, and easy. They’re broken down into a number of different categories, including soups, pasta, risotto, stir-fry, fish, meat, curries, salads, vegetarian, and puddings.
After picking a category, you can drill down into a selection of different recipes to suit every taste. It includes fifty five in total, akin to what you’d find in a small cookery book. The main theme of the app centres around the fact you should be able to produce any of them in twenty minutes (though, in reality, this would be a challenge!)
Each recipe has an introduction, and a comprehensive list of the ingredients and equipment required to make it. These can be altered automatically to cater for two or four people. Catering for 12? You’ll need to do the conversion math yourself.
The “Steps” section takes you through the cookery process, one simple step at a time. Turn the phone landscape, and you’ll see a number of different panels which can be tapped to show a photograph of that particular step.
This visual method of navigating through a recipe makes brilliant use of the iPhone, and packs far more information into each recipe than you’d have in a traditional recipe book. I love to see the device being used in innovative ways such as this.
The Shopping List
The only feature I haven’t found particularly useful on a day-to-day basis is the “Shopping List”. As you’d expect, this is a basic list which you can add items to manually, or pre-populate based on a recipe or “essentials” list.
If you’re new to cooking, it’s a good way to stock up a cupboard. Personally, I always prefer a piece of paper when running round the supermarket. I’m yet to find an iPhone app that’s as easy to use as a paper list!
Video Tips and Basics
The interactive nature of the app doesn’t stop at photographs. Several video tips are included to walk you through various basic steps that are required in many different recipes. These were originally bundled as part of the app download, but now seem to require Wi-Fi to download.
A few of the videos included are:
- Chopping an onion
- Making a risotto
- Pestle and mortar skills
- Cooking with herbs
- Preparing garlic
- Cooking the perfect steak
Even if you think you’re already an expect at a few of these, it’s worth watching the video. I learned a great deal of new techniques and skills that I hadn’t considered before – even for mundane tasks like chopping a garlic clove!
Finally, the “Essentials” section helps you choose both the basic ingredients and equipment that are an absolute “must have” in any kitchen setup.
Ingredients looks at mustards, vinegar, oil, sauces, sugars, pasta/rice, tins/jars, spices, stock, and what you should have in your fridge and freezer. Equipment focuses on everything from a big boiling pot, through to knives and scales.
Both sections have accompanying videos which take you through all the kitchen basics. A great place to start if you’re new to cooking, or if you want to pick up a few new tips on choosing decent ingredients.
Since picking up this application for the first time, I’ve been completely hooked. It’s one of the most expensive purchases I’ve made on the App Store, but I genuinely feel that it’s worth every penny.
Standard cookery books are boring, dry, and often quite pretentious. Jamie Oliver brings a fresh approach to the kitchen, welcome visual interaction to the cook-book genre, and the recipes included will satisfy new cooks and seasoned chefs alike.
Give the app a try, and get yourself in the kitchen!