Newest Review: ... 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 goo... more
Like having a shelf full of cookbooks on your computer
Member Name: redhead78
Advantages: More recipes than you'll ever want or need, all skill levels catered for, easy to search
Disadvantages: Too many recipes to choose from
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!!!
Summary: A great website for providing ideas and inspiration or variations on tried and trusted recipes