This week, we’re introducing a new feature: Foodie Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, tune in to read the latest food related app review, whether it’s about great BBQ or just the best drink app around. Eat up! -ed.
My latest pick for foodies is Rick Bayless: Mexican Essentials. If you’re a fan of authentic Mexican food then you need to check this one out. Rick Bayless is famous for his Chicago restaurant, Frontera Grill, and his passion for Mexican cuisine. This celebrity chef has written multiple cookbooks and starred in long running PBS series teaching home cooks about authentic Mexican cooking. He is an expert on the subject, and now you can take his expertise on the go in a mobile app.
Rick Bayless: Mexican Essentials includes 35 foundational Mexican recipes and photos, 40 videos in which the chef shares techniques and a virtual pantry to get you comfortable with Mexican ingredients. As with all the Chronicle Books apps, you’re getting a lot of valuable content for the price. If you’re interested in cooking true Mexican food at home, keep reading.
Launch the app and the smiling face of chef Rick Bayless greets you. There’s a reason this guy is famous — he’s genuine, sincere and always smiling. Tap the video camera icon for a short video introducing the app. In the video Rick says, “It’s sort of like having me right there in the kitchen with you.” His enthusiasm is contagious, and Chronicle Books made a smart move by enriching the app with 40 videos. It adds a nice personal touch to the content.
Launch the app and see Rick Bayless’s smiling face, left. The app includes 35 recipes with photos, right.
After you’ve met Rick Bayless, you’ll want to scope out the Recipes by selecting that tab on the bottom of the screen. Browse through all the recipes by swiping left and right or tap the List to scroll through recipes by category: Starters, Light Meals, Dinners, Basics and Sweets. The app offers a good selection of recipes, like salsa, guacamole, tamales, mole, tortillas, etc., but it would be nice to see some additions with the next update to keep users engaged.
Select a recipe to view Ingredients and Preparation steps. It’s great to see the Spanish translation displayed below the English recipe name. Rick’s Related Videos goes above and beyond expectations to deliver more to users. Tap the camera icon for a menu of videos covering techniques used in that particular recipe. For example, the recipe for Molcajete Salsa includes videos on “Making Hand-Crushed Salsa” and “Roasting and Peeling Tomatoes,” as well as three others. You can add recipes to a shopping list or to your favorites with the icons in the top right corner. It’s convenient to be able to share the entire recipe and ingredients list via email by tapping the icon of a box with an arrow.
You can also browse recipes by scrolling through a list, left. Tap the recipe for a card with Ingredients, Preparation Steps and other tools, right.
Scroll down the screen to read the entire recipe card. One cool feature of the Ingredients list is that you can tap highlighted ingredients to quickly access an information card with a photo of the ingredient, description and audio of Rick Bayless telling the story of that ingredient. Navigating back to the recipe is quick and easy with the touch of just one button.
Scroll down the recipe card to view the Ingredients list, left and the Preparation steps, right.
The Preparation steps for each recipe are broken down into small bites, which is great for cooking alongside the iPhone. Each step begins with bolded instructions, like “Grind the chiles and garlic” or “Fry the plantains,” which helps users see the big picture of the recipe at a glance. Yet again, the creators go above and beyond by including a video camera icon next to certain steps so you can see the chef demonstrate the technique in his kitchen.
The Mexican Pantry
Once you’ve perused the recipes, take a moment to browse the Ingredients tab. This is where you’ll find Rick Bayless’ 32 key ingredients for authentic Mexican cooking. Swipe left and right to browse through the photos or tap the List button at the top of the screen to scroll through an alphabetized list.
Select the Ingredients tab to browse foods used in authentic Mexican kitchens, left. Tap an ingredient for a full description, personal stories in audio from the chef and recipes in the app that call for the particular ingredient.
Every ingredient is represented with a photo and accompanied by the Spanish translation, which is handy if you’re shopping at a Mexican market. Read through the description, including information on what to look for in quality and how to store the ingredient. At the very bottom of the screen is a list of recipes calling for that ingredient. Tap the audio icon and listen to the animated chef telling the story of the ingredient. You can add it to your Favorites or share via email, Facebook or Twitter. Every time you favorite something a message box pops up on your phone — “Ingredient added to Favorites” — prompting you to tap OK. This is distracting and requires an extra unnecessary action, which is mildly annoying.
Unlike other recipe apps, the Shopping List for Rick Bayless: Mexican Essentials actually functions in a well-organized, intuitive way. Every time you add a recipe to the Shopping List, it organizes the ingredients by the section they can be found in the supermarket. Tap the X to cross out items as you shop. You even have the option to Email the shopping list, but it’s just a jumble of unorganized ingredients.
Every time you add a recipe to the Shopping List the ingredients are organized by their location in the supermarket, left. You can Favorite Recipes and Ingredients throughout the app and they are all gathered under the Favorites tab, right.
As you use the app there are recipes you make again and again, such as corn tortillas or guacamole. Add these Recipes or even Ingredients to your Favorites and they are all stored conveniently in one place, under the Favorites tab.
Chronicle Books has created another excellent cooking app for the iPhone with Rick Bayless: Mexican Essentials. They’ve got a great concept bringing users the massive expertise of knowledgeable cooks in a package that’s fun and easy to enjoy on a small screen. This app embraces the energy of Rick Bayless, enriching the content with plenty of videos and audio. If you’re looking to better understand authentic Mexican cooking and take that knowledge with you on the go, Rick Bayless: Mexican Essentials is a useful and inspiring cooking app.