“ Internet Site / Food & Cooking „
The day I got married was the day that I decided not to try and live on frozen food and takeout, but I faced something of a dilemma. I hadn't cooked since high school, and wasn't entirely sure I would remember how. Eventually deciding that I'd really like to try my hands at cooking things like curry and chilli from scratch I decided to search for some recipes. I found a few recipes on the BBC Good food website, and I have been using this site ever since.
Initially opening the website from its homepage however can be a bit of an overwhelming experience. The homepage is just so busy, with pictures appearing everywhere you care to look. There is a toolbar at the top of the page with links to various sections where you can find Seasonal recipes; healthy recipes, favourite recipes, and so much more. However with the abundance of pictures flying at you, and a wealth of supplementary articles on healthy eating and stuff, it is often hard to pick out one specific recipe that you'd like to try.
It is an easier site to manage if you decide in advance what you'd like to cook (curry; chilli etc...) and the do a search for that subject. The search engine has been laid out wonderfully, which is a good thing as this site has a lot of recipes. Search for curry for instance and you get over 200 recipes, but you can choose to order the search result according to how highly the recipes are rated by the other users. The site also informs you of how easy the recipe is to cook; how long it takes to cook, and includes pictures of the finished product so that you can choose something nice that you will be able to manage.
Selecting a recipe then brings you to a page that I find is laid out quite well. A fairly large picture of the dish shows you what it should end up looking like, and to the right of this picture is a list of ingredients that you will need to prepare. Scrolling down the picture is a step by step guide on how to cook the dish that is laid out in easily definable sections. The instructions for each dish are detailed enough (even telling you the exact number of minutes to do something) that cooking a fantastic meal becomes an attainable goal for even the least talented kitchen expert. Finally at the bottom of the instructions is the nutritional information that will be invaluable for both parents and dieters alike.
I would recommend reading the instructions through before you start though, as not every dish features preparation instructions and you will want to make sure each item is prepared before you start cooking!
If; after cooking something, you decide you like the dish then the site allows you to add it to a personalised binder for ease of use later. You can even set up set menus if you need, and share the recipes through Facebook by clicking on the buttons in this section. After that you can rate the recipe so that other users can get an accurate gauge of its quality.
A downside to this is that; while you can leave them, comments tend to be listed oldest to newest. So any comments you leave will end up on the back end of hundreds of comments, and will be unlikely to be read by anyone. I also disliked the fact that you had to scroll past all of the ads to get to the comments as this is a very ad heavy site. I was grateful that the ads were placed so as not to detract from the recipes, but they still tended to make the comment section look cluttered.
So with all of that out of the way you're no doubt wondering how good the food turned out to be? It is wonderful. I have cooked about 3 different curries; a chilli con carne; a paprika beef stew, and a wealth of other dishes. Some have been simpler than others, but all have been easy to cook and I've yet to try anything that I haven't liked. My favourite recipe is a chilli con carne that I do whenever we have guests, and even Vicky has discovered a paprika pork dish that she loves to cook. Ordinarily she hates to cook, so that gives you an idea about how simple these dishes can get.
I would highly recommend BBC Good Food despite the overly busy layout to the site. The dishes are healthy, easy, and tasty. Plus the ability to save recipes for future use has saved me needing to make a physical cook book. Most of the recipes are even quite cheap if you know where to by the ingredients in bulk, so it's overall worth doing even if you live a busy life. Some of the easier dishes take around 20 minutes and require minimal effort so there really is no reason to cook any other way again!
In case you hadn't guessed by the plethora of reviews I've done on cookbooks (don't worry, there will be even more to come no doubt!) I quite like cooking! Circumstances (ie time and money) mean I don't get to indulge my passion as often, or to the extent that, I would like. But it is very rare that we don't eat meals made from fresh ingredients and cooked from scratch, even if they've come out of the freezer! As well as a health thing (I don't want to eat meat with things added to it thank you very much, I want to eat meat!) I also like to know what is going in to our food and, as I said, I enjoy cooking. More to the point I enjoy cooking to feed my husband who LOVES his food. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and, although he argues with me on this and maintains he'd love me whether I could cook or not, I know that my love of cooking is a major plus point for him!
So, whereas in my younger day I was most often to be found curled up on the sofa with a good fiction book and a mug of hot chocolate, nowadays you're more likely to find me huddled over the coffee table, surrounded by cookbooks with a pencil and notebook in hand. I'm determined not to be one of those people that only ever cook the same things over and over again so, whenever possibly, I like to experiment and try new things, or variations on old things. Don't get me wrong, I have my fallback, tried and trusted recipes like everyone (see my chicken recipe review!) but I don't want to get stuck cooking the same recipes every week nor using the same ingredients. This is also a major consideration for me as we try to grow as many vegetables as our little veg patch can manage, so if we have a dozen courgettes to use up I don't want to be stuck eating them in the same way for a week.
I usually plan and shop for our meals a week at a time, to a) avoid temptation in the supermarket and b) try and look after the pennies a bit more. Easier said than done when hubby insists on coming to help...why does it take twice as long and cost half as much again when he comes as when I do the shop on my own?!! One of lifes little mysteries! As a result, I often find myself planning my shopping list at work (don't worry, I'm self-employed, so not doing it on someone elses dollar!) when, obviously, I don't have access to my beloved cookbooks. When this happens I find myself increasingly turning to the BBC GoodFood website.
I first came across it in a search engine when I was looking for a specific recipe and their link came up. I clicked on to it and was immediately hooked, spending the next few hours meandering around, getting to know the site and drooling! Basically, it's a website designed for anyone with an interest in cooking and/or food on any level and runs alongside an accompanying magazine.
The website is very well laid out, making it incredibly easy to use. It has tabs along the top including Home, Recipes, Blog, Healthy, Seasonal, How To Cook, Competitions etc, with the remainder of the homepage being divided into tempting looking sections (well, the photos look tempting anyway!). There is a recipe of the day at the top, usually followed by a selection of vegetarian recipes, family recipes, no cook recipes, slow cooker recipes, seasonal recipes, budget recipes and so on. There is also a link for you to click on should you wish to subscribe and a search section (along with the unavoidable adverts).
I don't know anything about, or understand, blogs so I've never used this section but for those of you that are into your vino, the wine section is very helpful, teaching you about the different grapes and helping you choose which wines should accompany different types of food. The Healthy and Seasonal pages are pretty self-explanatory really, giving information about how to cook more healthily as well as providing suitable recipes, ditto for how to cook more seasonally. I've not used it myself, but looking at the How to Cook section seems to be very helpful if you're unsure of anything, with step by step guides and instructional videos you can watch.
Personally, I use this website for it's recipes. If you click on this tab it takes you to the recipes page and you are presented with several options such as the highest rated recipes, editors choice or the most recently posted ones. But the choice of ways to search for recipes is immense and doesn't stop there. You can search by specific ingredient, type of cuisine, length of time it takes to make, type of course (starter, main, pudding etc), how easy it is to make, occasion. There really is a plethora of ways to search, making it incredibly easy to find what you're looking for, or just to browse if you're not looking for anything in particular.
The recipes are mostly by "famous" chefs including Gordon Ramsey, Gary Rhodes, Ken Hom, James Martin and Mary Cadogan or are taken from the Good Food and Olive magazines and are all laid out in a very user friendly way. If, for examply, you search for chicken a list will come up with a photograph of each dish, who posted it, how long it takes to make, the level of difficulty, a brief description of the dish and a rating. Like Dooyoo, members of the site can rate a recipe from 1 to 5 stars after they've tried the recipe themselves and can also make comments on it. Once you've chosen the recipe that tickles your fancy and clicked on it, it is just like a page from a typical cookbook with a list of ingredients, method, how many it will feed, how long it will take etc and there are often little useful hints or tips to go with the recipe. For example, at the bottom of the Creamy Pesto Chicken With Roasted Tomatoes recipe there is a guide on how to make your own pesto.
The bit I find most useful, however, comes underneath the recipe itself. This is the rates and comments section. Over time I've found myself only ever choosing recipes with 4 or more stars as an average and that have positive comments. The few times I veered from this ended in disaster, so I soon learnt my lesson! The main reason I find this section helpful is because of the user comments. People that have tried the recipe say if it worked, if it was tasty and what, if anything, they did differently. This has been a great help to me with cooking times, substituting ingredients and what to serve as side dishes. Much like Dooyoo, you get personal experiences shared and recommendations and I find these invaluable.
Over the last few years I've tried many many recipes from this website, the vast majority of which have been successful and tasty and have been made more than once...always a sign of a good dish! I generally tend to use it for pudding ideas, what to do with a glut of vegetables or new ideas to serve to my vegetarian mother-in-law.
Our favourite recipes so far are:
-Best Ever Brownies (chocolate brownies to die for! even better than our local deli's brownies according to hubby, and as they're £1.85 per portion, making a tray of these works out at a fraction of the cost)
-Self Saucing Lemon Pudding, a delicious, light and tangy way to end a meal
-Chilli Con Carne (so easy to just stick everything in the slow cooker and feeds us for 4 meals!)
-Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup
-Quick Courgette Lasagne (that's where those blooming courgettes go!)
-Chocolate Brownie Cake
-Raspberry and Blueberry Lime Drizzle Cake (I would walk 500 miles for this cake!)
-Lemon Curd and Blueberry Loaf Cake
-Brioche French Toast with Warm Blueberry Compote (now our breakfast of choice when we have guests or want to be indulgent, although even I can't bring myself to have icecream for breakfast and use natural yoghurt instead!)
These are just a few of the dozens of recipes I've tried, make time and again and would recommend from the website, especially the brioche!! Another good feature of the website is that, once you join - a very pain-free process! - you are given a virtual binder, so if you come across recipes you fancy trying you can just add them to your binder. Mine, if it was a WHSmith special, would be full to busting now, but luckily there's no limit to how many you can store, or if there is I haven't yet reached my limit, despite having a hefty 176 recipes in there!
In case you hadn't guessed I am a big fan of the BBC GoodFood website and would highly recommend you take a quick peek at it. Whether you're a seasoned cook looking for some new ideas, someone with a glut of courgettes to use, or a complete beginner to cooking, I almost guarantee you'll find something useful. And, best of all, it's all for free!!!
Being a 'foodie' I love the Good Food website as it is so easy to use. The site is well laid out and uses good photography to illustrate the feature dishes. There is a very good search facility that will allow recipes to be found based on ingredient, cooking time or type of cuisine. You can set-up your own binder to store all of your favourite recipes to save having to keep re-searching for them. There are loads of recipes which cover starters, mains and deserts as well as ideas for cakes, soups and lunch box suggestions.
There is a very useful section called 'How to Cook' which has a variety of cookery videos that you can watch. The glossary is very informative and contains information on a whole host of ingredients telling you how to prepare, store and cook it. Under this section is a number of conversion charts for converting weights and oven temperature etc.
The wine section of the site is really good and allows you to match your wine to your menu. You can also look up the grape varieties so that you can talk knowledgably about the wine with your friends over dinner.
There are usually some very good prizes up for grabs in the competition section of the site ranging from city breaks to luxury hampers. Once you have registered on the site, your details will be pre-populated into any competition that you enter, saving valuable time.
I love this website and use it as my homepage.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article.
If you thought the only things the BBC was good for were Dr Who and Eastenders, think again. BBC Good Food website is one of my favourites, for a myriad of reasons.
Affiliated with the magazine of the same name, BBC Good Food is a website dedicated to all things foodie. The website can be accessed at www.bbcgoodfood.com. The website is neatly set out, with a 'tab' system at the top of the homepage, dividing up the sections of the website for easy accessibility. The website is clear and uncluttered, with simple green text and banners on a smart white background and with gorgeous food photography, giving a neat and professional finish to the website which is easy on the eyes.
In addition - and I know this is a bugbear for many people - the website is not filled with adverts or pop-ups. Admittedly, there are a couple of banner-style and animated ads on the web pages, but these are not overbearing and do not distract from the content in my opinion.
~*~* Website sections *~*~
The website is divided into a number of sections, as shown on the easy to read menu banner at the top of each page, being:
Home - an easy way to go back to the home page when needed.
Recipes - containing over 5,000 recipes for many occasions. This is the highlight and essence of the website, so I will discuss this further later.
Blog - interesting and seasonal food features from food journalists and the magazine editor, with an archive feature for past articles.
Wellbeing features - more articles on how to eat healthier and nutrition.
Seasonal food - articles and recipes on what food is in season (including fruit, vegetables and fish, which I was quite surprised about) and associated recipes. This is really useful, particularly if you are on a budget, as seasonal food is often cheaper and therefore finding out what is in season and creating tasty, appealing recipes using these is really handy and a nice touch when entertaining!
How to Cook - a really useful, encyclopaedic cookery video library as well as glossaries and guides. This is really useful, particularly if you are new to cooking or (like me) need some reassurance over classic cooking techniques such as soufflé-making, cake decorating or pastry-making. It's a really handy resource and the video function means you can follow step-by-step.
Wine -first and foremost, a useful, easy-to-understand and non-patronising wine guide (with interesting food and wine matching tables and an education on grape varieties), as well as recipes for other drinks.
Competitions - web-entry competitions, usually for cookery breaks, hampers or other food-related products and events.
Shop - for food related products, courses etc and links to the BBC shop for magazines and products.
Magazine - details of what's in the latest Good Food magazine and subscription details.
Of these sections, I like the 'How to cook' and Recipes sections the most. I literally knew nothing about cooking a couple of years ago and, with the help of recipe books and this website, I have learned loads of new techniques and have grown in confidence in my cooking, which has been really satisfying.
~*~* Recipes *~*~
This is the most fabulous section for me, for so many reasons I'm worried I won't get them all done! The website contains over 5,000 recipes, including those from seasoned food writers and cooks, as well as from readers also (my favourite recipe is for honeycomb and chocolate mousse pots - and if that doesn't make you drool I don't know what will!).
Recipes are divided into a few sections for easy browsing, including by occasion, cuisine (if you have a hankering for Chinese, Indian or British classics for example), vegetarian and healthy eating. Other sections which I find really useful are cheap eats, one-pot meals, storecupboard, low-fat, salmon and comfort foods.
Once you've found some recipes, you can filter the recipes down even further, by cooking time, difficulty, occasion, diet (if you have requirements for gluten-free, low fat, meals for diabetics etc), chef and even number of servings! All in all, I think the repository of recipes if incredibly useful - there is always something on there which fits the bill and I love poring through the sections finding recipes to try.
The instructions and ingredients list are clearly set out and easy to follow, with all timings and directions given. In addition, as you can sign up to become a 'member' of the website, recipes that have been tried by members often have their ratings and evaluation of the recipe, so you can pick up some useful pointers, tips and variations this way, as well as posting your own when you come to make it yourself!
~*~* Posting recipes and personal recipe binder *~*~
As well as posting your evaluation of recipes already on the site, there is an option to also to upload your own recipe to the site for other people to try. This is a really handy feature, and really helps build a sense of community to the website which is nice as some food websites can leave you feeling a bit cold.
The steps to upload your recipe (and a photo of your culinary efforts if possible!) are clear and concise and definitely something to consider if you want other opinions on your meal or are a keen cook.
My favourite feature of this website, above all else, is the personal recipe binder. Once you register on the website (you do not need to be registered to browse any of the recipes, instruction videos, articles or enter competitions at all) you can compile your own recipe binder, where you can 'grab' recipes you like and pop them into your folder for future and easy reference, as well as building whole 'menus' of meals that go together. Registration is also free, all you need is an email address.
This is utterly fabulous as it means you effectively have an online recipe book, tailored to your own preferences and needs, that you can dip into time and time again - a fantastic resource!
~*~* The Verdict *~*~
Overall, I do not have a bad word to say about this website. It is, aesthetically, neat and tidy to look at and very easy to navigate. The recipes are really the stars of the show for me, as well as the recipe binder, with a huge range of recipes for every conceivable event, taste and skill level.
All of this, plus instructional videos, from a free and very professional and 'warm' feeling website, makes it a fantastic resource for anyone.