Tablet apps get us cooking like Jamie Oliver

Summer is upon us, despite the recent wet weekend, and when the shades and shorts come out, thoughts of grub are never far away. Barbecues and al-fresco eating are a key part of June, July and August, with the lip-smacking smell of griddled steak and fancy dinners set to drift from back gardens up and down the country over the coming weeks.


Jamie Oliver’s app helps would-be chefs battling time constraints

At the same time foodie types will be heading to the many food festivals taking place over the summer to sample some of the best local produce around before going home and having a stab at cooking up a storm with their ingredients. Festivals in Lancashire, London and Newcastle are all pencilled-in this month – offering hand-reared meat, locally-brewed ale, soil-covered carrots and the quintessentially English afternoon tea, just don’t forget to extend that pinkie.

All of this suggests the way to our hearts is through our stomachs – and with celebrity chefs harnessing technology to get more of us cooking, that trend is set to continue.

Although the thought of a messy, food-strewn kitchen and a swanky new iPad don’t exactly go hand in hand, cooking apps have really taken hold in recent months.

Slapped on a docking station or against a stand, the iPad becomes an all-singing, all-dancing cookbook for the digital generation. Kitchen cooks can load apps offering video recipes and be coached through every stage of that tricky homemade pasta dish – all for the price of having to keep their hands clean!

Among the best-loved cooking apps is one from the boys at MasterChef. John and Gregg offer a friendly introduction before past winners get down to the nitty-gritty in a number of culinary videos designed to sharpen your skills – provided you can hack the pressure, that is?

What about if you’re into cooking but are busy working and bringing up kids? Don’t panic: chef Jamie Oliver has come to the rescue with his 20 Minute Meals app – designed to help people with limited free time craft tasty and healthy scoff. People with Android devices can have a look at this app, too – cheers Jamie.

Some of these apps offer far more than conventional recipes – bringing a raft of interactive features to the table. Take free app Epicurious, which allows users to search for recipes containing a particular keyword. Also if the idea of writing a shopping list bores you to tears listen up, because the app creates tailored lists based on the ingredients you choose – pretty swish, eh? This one is also available on Android devices.

Aside from apps, food-lovers can use their tablets or laptops to find a shed-full of cooking hints and tips online. That cheeky chappie Jamie Oliver is on the money here too – offering a cracking website jam-packed with pukka recipes and videos. If you’re having difficulty with one of the laid-back chef’s creations, have a nosey in his forums for some banter with other site users.

Also pushing the online community vibe is the tousle-haired champion of local produce Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Access Hugh’s website with your laptop or desktop PC and you will get stacks of recipes and videos, alongside blogs and forums for that all-important bonding with other aspiring cooks.

If you fancy a change from the established websites of Jamie and co, why not take a look at one of the many food blogs out there? There are plenty to choose from, covering every type of cuisine under the sun. If you have fallen in love with the food and culture of Tuscany on a holiday to Italy then Italian Food Forever is a decent place to start.

If you want to learn at the foot of a MasterChef past master, Book The Cook could be for you. Here past finalist David Hall shares his secrets for simple honest food – if that sounds up your street perhaps check it out next time you load up your laptop or desktop PC. Another great site is BBC Food. Users can access oodles and oodles of content on their computers here as well.

So now we’ve given you the lowdown on cooking apps and websites what are you waiting for? There are carrots and onions to be chopped, meat to be seared and tortes to be baked – so get cracking.

Have you used your tablet to help you out in the kitchen? Comment below…