Celebrity Chef Apps

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If Jersey Shore’s “The Situation” can have an iPhone app, then so can the celebrity chefs of the world. In fact, “The Situation” is pretty late to the iPhone app party. There are hundreds if not thousands of food and recipe related apps out there, almost making cookbooks a thing of the past. But don’t throw out those cook books just yet, we take a look at some of the features our beloved celebrity chefs have in their apps.

Bittman

Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything – $4.99

With over 2,000 recipes this is certainly one of the more comprehensive collections from any of the apps. “Bittman’s Picks” provides some of his more notable dishes with must try recipes. The recipes contain built in cook timers: hit the link and a nifty countdown will appear, perfect for those of us who can’t cook an egg. Another great feature is his suggestions for alternative dishes, search for Chicken Pot Pie and there is also a recipe for a mashed potato crust. However, for such a streamlined app the one thing it is sorely missing are pictures, perhaps on the next update. Thanks Mark.

Florence

Tyler Florence Fast – $4.99

If like me, when cooking, you tend to curse out the author of the cookbook, then this is the app for you. Tyler has included an “Ask the Chef” feature. Just click on the button and you’ll be directed to your email– to chat with Tyler himself. But do we really think he reads those things. The app updates seasonally, adding to the 500 plus signature recipes already featured. Another interesting feature is linking the kitchen timer to your iTunes. Listen to your favorite Lady Gaga as you wait for that prime rib to cook.

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This Needs to be Dal-ed Up

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Granola bars. Chex mix. Water bottles. Single portion packets of Motrin. Tissues. Mini bottles of Jack and Bacardi. That was the contents of my friends’ Katie and Joe’s wedding gift bag. My gift bag, however, included two additional items: black mustard seeds and udad dal split matpe beans.

Just a few weeks ago Katie drove out to the ‘burbs of Virginia or Maryland, I forget which one, and hit up an Indian grocery. She picked up extra goodies for me but in the craziness that is the weeks before a wedding we weren’t able to meet up. Brilliantly, she decided to drop it my gift bag. (Future brides take note!)

For a dinner my friend Raya hosted I decided to try out my newly received lentils.

Now I don’t usually pay for iPhone apps, but Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything is a gem. I googled around for dal recipes, even using its blog filter search, but I couldn’t find anything I wanted to try. I turned to Bittman. I trust him. And his laid-back, authoritative tone makes for good reading. Plus the app doesn’t require wireless to work.

Anyway, I used his “Simplest Dal” recipe as a guide.

And while I’m encouraged to play around with dal again, I haven’t mastered how to up the flavor. It didn’t have a great zing to it and at times tasted of tannins. Here’s what I did but please tell me what I should have done.

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The Crawl: Philly Beer Week

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A successful pub crawl is a work of art. It’s something that you can only plan out so much. There needs to be “feel” involved. You need to know when to stick around and when to beat it for greener pastures. But when you decide to put together a do-it-yourself crawl during the thick of the drinking festival that is Philly Beer Week, your chances of success go up quite a bit.

Of course, this sort of thing is never fun to do it alone, so I recruited Dad to tag along. Though not as big a beer nerd as me, he was up for the challenge. Plus, having someone else with you means you get to taste their beer, too, so good for me. FYI…times are provided courtesy of my Foursquare check-ins. It all kinda got blurry towards the end, so this is the best evidence I have of my travels.

1:40 Monk’s Cafe had to be the first stop of the day. World-renowned for its amazing collection of Belgian beer on tap, I was happy to find plenty of room at the bar, which isn’t usually the case. I decided to kick things off in style with a Petrus Aged Pale Ale. It was pleasantly sour (aged in oak barrels), aggressive and — at over $9 for a small tulip glass — pricey. I’m glad I had it early when I could still enjoy it.

2:55 – Soccer time, and it was on to McGillin’s! I’ve mentioned them before and I love the place because it’s fun and familiar. While they don’t have the exotic selection of beers like other bars in Philly, they do focus on having something from all of the local breweries. Eat locally, drink locally! I got to taste Victory’s new Summer Love, a special variety marketed in conjunction with Philly’s visitor bureau (yeah, we’re serious about beer in this town), which matched perfectly with some buffalo wings and onion rings. Also fun: Getting to watch the English goalie become a pariah in his home country.

After the jump, plenty more beer, I make a new friend and score some food from an Iron Chef!

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Cheflebrity Smörgåsbord: Philly Burger Beatdown

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The latest and greatest news about celebrity chefs, served up buffet style.

– The locals are not taking kindly to the new Philadelphia location of Bobby’s Burger Palace.  That’s what you get for defeating Philly legend Delilah Winder on Throwdown.

– A new iPhone app will let Mark Bittman follow you around like some kind of creepy food genius.  Question:  How comfortable are you bringing a several-hundred-dollar electronic device into the kitchen with you?

After the jump…food television Upfront-a-palooza!

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Cooking at the Consumer Electronics Show

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We can’t let the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas go by unnoticed. We here at ES still choose the iPhone over Google’s entry into the smart phone world, Nexus One, but we’re not for passing up an opportunity to talk about some sexy kitchen toys. I’ve found (from my office desk, not Vegas :( ) the funkiest and perhaps most useless kitchen items to ever grace the earth currently.

MyDemy (above) is to cooks what Kindle is to avid readers: an all in one recipe book, timer, conversion chart and ingredient substitution thingy. It’s “kitchen safe” which basically means you can splash a few drops of water on it and you’ll be fine, just don’t drop it in a pot of boiling oil.

The MyDemy does seem like a great tool for storing all of your personal recipes (if the Kindle were color and had pictures I’d already be an owner of such a device). At $299 the MyDemy seems slightly overpriced considering it appears to only sync with its website Key Ingredient.  If I were to really make use of this then I would need to have hundreds of recipes, which I don’t really have. Even if I did, it would take me years to type them all out. Perhaps MyDemy 2.0 will interface with Epicurious and then we’d be good to go.

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Best Food iPhone Apps

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The first thing all of my friends would tell you about me is that I’m pseudo-addicted to my iPhone. My better half refers to the gadget as my other boyfriend; in which order he and the device are placed I am yet to figure out. Whether I’m checking my email, tweeting or reading the news, I will always find a reason to play with it.

But one of the more surprising and perhaps most purposeful tools I have found for my iPhone is its usefulness in the kitchen and in the grocery store. There are an unbelievable array of food-related apps on the market, enabling me to plan dinner, make restaurant reservations, research menus for my diet-conscious friends, create a grocery list and even expand my enviro-conscious.

Having downloaded and deleted many, many applications, I thought I would share my favorites so you don’t have to waste your bandwidth. Check out the best after the jump.

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Go Fishing with Your iPhone

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I try to be a socially-responsible eater, but it’s tough to take an absolute stand and commit to one of the usual categories.  I’m not a locavore, a vegetarian, a vegan or an organics-only diner.  The main problem is that, even if I could get on board from a taste perspective, I know I’ll never keep at it.  Heck, I can’t even swear off eating human brains because I know that diet will go to shit during the inevitable zombie outbreak.

But one area I do try to do my best to make wise choices is when I purchase and eat seafood.  The numbers are startling and the prognosis grim when it comes to the future of many of the most popular seafood choices.  It’s no surprise when you hear about customers asking high-profile restaurants like Nobu to lay off the bluefin tuna.

The challenge for a responsible seafood eater is not just picking the right species of fish, but there are also considerations such as the location from which the seafood was taken (geography as well as farmed vs. wild) and the method by which it was taken, with some techniques vastly preferable to others.  Keeping it all straight can be difficult.

Fortunately, the folks at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have made it considerably easier by issuing “Seafood Guide,” (iTunes link) a free iPhone application that provides diners and shoppers with the latest info about how to make choices that support sustainability. Armed with the necessary information, I wanted to see how easy it was to be a smart diner on a trip to Bonefish Grill, a national chain of seafood restaurants.

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