The cookstr.com recipe portal has been dishing up exclusive recipes to home chefs across the world since 2008. Brought to you by founder Will Schwalbe, formally one of the biggest names in food publishing, Cookstr is a great way to try recipes from top chefs free of charge.
How Cookstr Works
The basic premise of cookstr.com is 'try before you buy.' The website lets you view a selection of recipes from traditional cookbooks, recipes you wouldn't normally have access to without buying the book itself. The idea is that if you like the recipes you're more likely to purchase the cookbooks they came from.
When the company first arrived on the digital culinary scene, the New York Times called it a plan to sell cookbooks by giving away recipes for free. But as Mr. Schwalbe puts it: “There are just so many people who go to the Web to look for recipes, and that is a great moment to remind them that the best recipes in the world are in books, to introduce them to authors they might not know about.”
What You Can Expect From Cookstr's Portal
We spend a lot of time online researching recipes. According to an Australian study, participants spent 71 percent more time looking at recipe and cooking websites in February 2020 compared to March 2020. And these results are indicative of trends worldwide. It seems the pandemic has got us hungry indeed.
A cynical reviewer might satirically note that the jump in food content consumption could be related to the seemingly never ending stories that food blogs preface recipes with. You know the type, a basic recipe for ice cream is buried under the author's three-page essay about the ice cream they ate on holiday while building a shed at their beach property.
Thankfully, you won't cop that with cookstr.com's recipe site. Once you find a dish you're interested in, it's straight down to business with little tedious preamble, which this reviewer appreciated.
The website's home page is relatively unadorned, save a few expected ads. Users can sort content by recipes, cookbooks, or chefs and authors from the menu bar, or, alternatively, plug a few ingredients of a chef's name into the search bar to view results.
The site features a responsive search function that pulls up numerous dishes. For the best results when searching for a dinner idea, try typing multiple ingredients. Otherwise, plug in the name of your fave chef and you'll see every dish the site has indexed.
Mercifully, the search function is forgiving too. I searched for Yotam Ottolenghi and misspelled the good chef's surname, nevertheless, three delicious Ottolenghi recipes appeared (I'm making the Apple and Olive Oil Cake with Maple Icing for dessert tonight).
Pros and Cons
- Serious home cooks will appreciate the breadth of recipes available
- The site's clean interface is user-friendly
- Options to hunt down recipes by ingredients or chef
- Options to buy a cookbook online by following a non-obtrusive link
- Exclusive selection of cookbook-only recipes
- View dishes by cookbook to see if you'd like to buy the whole book
- Some people might a prefer cooking site with more dynamic information and content, such as explainer videos
Food For Thought
The site is clean and easy to navigate, plus there are plenty of recipes to peruse. Enter dessert and cream, for example, and there are seven pages of delectable results.
Furthermore, the company behind the site is flogging print books in a way that doesn't hinder the site's functionality or user experience, and that's something this reviewer can happily get on board with.