Despite the fact that humans require a steady supply of food to keep on living, actually cooking the stuff into something barely edible remains -- for many of us -- a frighteningly challenging task.
Thankfully, modern technology is keeping up with our human need for sustenance, and now we have Nigella Lawson's Quick Collection (iTunes link) for the iPhone. Hot on the heels of Jamie Oliver's 20 minute meals app, it's a way of getting a huge range of recipes jammed on to the one thing guaranteed never to leave your side, even in the kitchen -- your trusty iPhone.
We rang up Nigella for a quick natter. (Yes, we have her phone number. No, she hasn't cooked us dinner.) To hear our interview, in which we talk about the new app, what she thinks about the iPad and where she would go if she could time-travel, just click this play button:
What does it do?
Firing up the app, you'll be treated to a 30-second video with Nigella talking you through the ethos behind the Quick Collection. Skip ahead to the main menu, and you can explore the full range of features at your culinary disposal.
There are 70 recipes on offer, most of which are sourced from Nigella's various cookery books, but you will find ten app-exclusives to play with, and ten of the recipes have a short accompanying video to give you a more visual guide to what exactly you're aiming for.
The recipes themselves are sorted into categories to make it easy to find something suitable to cook. If you're cooking for kids, there's a section for that, but you can also view recipes suited to your 'food mood'. If you're feeling romantic you'll be offered Instant Chocolate Mousse and other lovey-dovey delights, whereas if you're feeling sociable, it's all about the Curry in a Hurry.
Perhaps the most useful way to slice recipes, however, is the 'What's in your fridge?' option, which presents you with recipes based on whatever you happen to already have lying around. If you already know the recipe you want, there's also a search function.
When viewing a recipe you'll have the option to add the ingredients to a shopping list, which you can access using a dedicated icon along the bottom of the app. You can email your shopping list, but we imagine you'll find more use in simply taking it with you to the shops and ticking things off as you pick them up.
Back in the kitchen, with your ingredients ready, you'll want to fire up the recipe in question, and start following the instructions. You can move forwards or back through the recipe by shouting 'forward' or 'backward' at your iPhone, and while you'll need to ensure you don't have any background noise getting in the way for this feature to work, it does eliminate the need to prod at the iPhone's lovely touchscreen with greasy cooking fingers. The instructions themselves are delivered in a pleasingly conversational tone -- not in Nigella's husky tones, sadly, it's just text -- but it is devoid of any intimidating culinary jargon.
The Quick Collection costs £4.99, which is a pretty substantial sum in app terms. For that money you'll get 70 recipes, which is certainly enough to keep you going, but we would have liked a more comprehensive selection of recipes.
The Quick Collection is unlikely to replace your good old-fashioned stack of cookery books anytime soon. It does give you a fun list of recipes, however, and they're nicely presented, with 40 minutes of the lovely Ms Lawson thrown in for good measure. It's no kitchen revolution, but if you're on the lookout for anything to make cooking that little bit easier, the Quick Collection is well worth a purchase.