Cook up the perfect recipe..
Why do people bother to cook? Nip down to your nearest town centre and no doubt you’ll find plenty of fast-food outlets, greasy cafés, over-priced restaurants and tasty bakeries. What’s the point of clumsily gathering a dozen or so ingredients together at home, tossing them into various pans, spending an hour or so following a torturous recipe, then watching everyone wolf down your efforts in five minutes flat without taking their eyes off the TV?
There are several good reasons why cooking is the way forwards. Firstly, in light of recent – equine – scandals, you’ll know exactly what goes into your dinner. It’s also healthier, as freshly-preserved meals do not need the preservatives, colourings and chemicals of pre-packaged stuff. It often works out cheaper, better for the environment, and it’s a decent talent to have in one’s locker. It also allows you to be able to watch one of the one thousand or so cookery shows transmitted daily by terrestrial TV and point out exactly where everyone on it is going wrong.
Just to tickle your taste-buds and wet your appetite, here is a list of the top ten cookery sites on the web. As a test, we prime each site’s most popular recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara to make sure the principles of eggs, bacon/pancetta, pasta and an optional cheese topping are adhered to.
This site boasts an impressive 475,000 recipes, which should give you enough variety for one meal a day for over 1,300 years. You can search by category, ingredients or calorific content. The site has many specials, with an emphasis on healthy, and quick and easy meals. You can set up your own meal planner, so you can plan your meals for the entire week and auto-generate your shopping list. The site’s most popular recipe for Carbonara, re-christened “Rock & Roll Spaghetti Carbonara” for some reason, contained cream and shallots, which was disappointing.
Epicurus – whom after this site we presume is named – was a Greek philosopher, who came up the theory that life was all about pleasure coupled with a modest way of living, and the knowledge of one’s limitations. Epicurious is for people who love to eat, and who love to share their favourite recipes with like-minded foodies. We did not approve of the site’s most popular recipe for Carbonara though, which contains pork belly and peas.
3. Chow – www.chow.com
This site is much more than a recipes site. It contains videos for instruction in the hope of improving your cooking techniques, a discussion board and blog about all elements of cooking, and not just food. The site is a little ad-heavy, which can lead to distractions, and has a very heavy American influence. Typing “Spaghetti Carbonara” in the site’s search engine blessed us with another recipe which insisted on the addition of peas, for some inexplicable reason.
A nice and simple site, and if you’re one of those people who finds it hard to make decisions on what to cook, the landing page of this site has a daily suggestions board that should help you out. You can save your own file of recipes, and there are dedicated sections on Quick and Easy recipes, and Healthy one. We searched for Spaghetti Carbonara from the database of 50,000+ recipes, but were dismayed at the suggestion that we need to add half a cup of dry white wine to the dish.
Originally a personal blog started up by a lady called Elise, this site has only a couple of hundred recipes, but each comes with the guarantee that they have all been cooked and tested by Elise and her family. You can join the site, create your own box of recipes from those on offer, and work out a personal shopping list of your required ingredients. We were delighted to find that Elise’s recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara contained olive oil, pancetta, garlic, eggs, parmesan, pasta, salt and black pepper and nothing else.
This site is for those who are not afraid to get a little adventurous in the kitchen. There are videos that will pass you some handy and unexpected cooking tips, restaurant reviews, and design tips for use when planning to put together your dream kitchen. Their Spaghetti Carbonara recipe was submitted by Chef Mario Batali, a familiar face from US TV cookery shows. Naturally, it was wonderfully authentic – simply pancetta, salt, spaghetti, cheese, eggs and pepper.
More than just food, cooking.com is perhaps the prime site on the net for all your cookery needs, including utensils, tools, bakeware, appliances and gadgets. Once you’ve resisted the temptation of equipping your kitchen like found in a high-class restaurant, the recipe section is sadly somewhat lacking. The nearest we could find to Spaghetti Carbonara was “Springtime Carbonara”, which contained carrots, peas, asparagus and cream.
A community-based site, All Recipes relies upon contributors to fill its database of meals and cooking suggestions. For beginner cooks there are video tutorials to follow. You can even log on to the site as a cook and indulge yourself in the cooking community that has developed on the site. All Recipes’ most popular recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara did contain garlic and onion, though.
In the days before Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, Gary Rhodes and even Nigella Lawson, there was Delia Smith. Delia has been part of the UK TV cookery elite for well over thirty years, extolling the virtues of simple meals and even simpler techniques, and her site is no different. Surprisingly, Delia’s recipe for Carbonara contains cream.
The food network is the UK’s sole cookery-only TV network (although some may argue BBC2 also qualifies as such). The site offers the usual cooking-based fare, with a series of videos aimed at helping fledgling cooks master the basics of recipe construction. Their Carbonara recipe did contain cream, but we let them off as they made sure that its use was optional.