I have no idea how many food e-mails I get. Though the quantity overwhelms at times, I’m compelled to read messages that deliver recipes. I covet cookbooks. I relish trying new ways to make food. And I don’t want to miss out on the new dish my family and friends will request for the next few decades. (I know I’m not the only one with a knee-high stack of paper and magazine pages filled with new food loves waiting to be kitchen-tested.)
If this resonates with you, check out Food Republic’s new recipe section which launched a few days ago. While the FR site has long boasted individual recipes, this is its first attempt to organize them into a semi-searchable “cookbook.” Each page shares a title, photo, and catchy tag for 16 recipes. You can filter by category (dinner, lunch, and small plates to name a few) and by “special feature” (which is basically another category type enabling you to narrow your search down to comfort food, vegetarian, killer sides, main meats, and a handful of other attributes). Click a pic, and let the menu planning begin!
I dove into the site recently, wondering how it would compare with some of my faves. Here’s what I found.
The pics snagged me. Beautifully cropped, interestingly focused, and wonderfully colorful, the food photos drew me in as any good food photo should. The site boasts a healthy number of diverse recipes, so if you’re in a generalist-sort-of-mood, you’ll find at least a few intriguing ideas. The search filters worked well, and I was able to sort recipes to see those most popular according to other readers.
I love the fact that you can access a recipe with one click; so many sites take you on a perilous, user-unfriendly journey to get to the actual treasure. I’m also grateful beyond belief for the pre-formatted print version of each recipe. Hit the tiny black printer button above an entry, and you’ll see a text version without loads of extraneous information and ads. Straightforward, clean, simple — as printing should be these days, don’t you think?
Room To Grow
To be truly valuable, the site needs a much more robust recipe search option. In its current state, if I want to find vegetarian and seafood recipes for lunch and dinner, I have to search multiple times. Readers need the ability to hone in on recipes using a mix-and-match set of attributes. FR also needs to grow the list of recipe characteristics past the dozen or so it uses today. (Many of my friends would be disappointed by the lack of a vegan search category.)
Recipes (at least most of them) lack nutritional information, which in today’s environment is table stakes. And because the site doesn’t have a sign-in feature, you can’t save recipes (except through your browser’s bookmarking functionality), and you can’t save searches.
Having been in the web and software development business for awhile now, I’m betting they have a roadmap to address many of these shortcomings.
The Bottom Line
The appeal of the recipes I’ve seen coupled with the fab photography will keep me going back to Food Republic’s recipe section when I’m in the mood to cook something new, but I have other, more robust sites that will continue to sit at the top of my recipe search list for now. I’ll wait to see how FR moves its new recipe search site forward and take advantage of its content when I can for the foreseeable future.
What sites do you search when you’re on the prowl for a new recipe? So many exist. They all have strengths, and they all have opportunities for improvement. What do you want to see from sites providing recipe search functionality for those of us that love to cook?
Image credit: www.foodrepublic.com/recipes