The name Epicurious is thrown around on this site pretty frequently. I point to it as a learning tool, because it is an easy-to-use and readily accessible common reference point. It is often my default recipe source because its recipes basically guarantee quality.
As the internet become increasing dominated by behemoths such as the big G, Martha and the Conde Nast group, some people turn to smaller, more niche information providers to escape the hold of the large corporations. Often these mega-sites really have great things to offer, but sometimes they don’t deserve the hype. Today, we’ll look at three reasons to worship at the Epicurious alter. But tomorrow, we’ll take a look at some of the site’s pitfalls.
Epicurious Can Turn You into a Super Chef Overnight
Recipes are pulled from Bon Appetit, the now-defunct Gourmet, Cooking Light, Cookie, Parade, Self, and Random House cookbooks. These recipes are written and tested by professionals. It has won buckets of awards, and personally, I feel very lucky to have free access to this level of recipe on such a scale. Though I have a subscription to Bon Appetit, through Epicurious I can access back issues of many, many magazines more quickly (and with far less shelf space). They even have 50 year old House & Garden recipes up there!
If a recipe is on Epicurious, it is a guarantee for delicious food. There is really no question about that. If you use the exact ingredients they list in the specified quantities and cook them as they say, you will wow yourself, your significant other, and your friends. When one friend of mine discovered Epicurious and started cooking from it exclusively, her husband thought she had been secretly attending cooking classes because her food changed so drastically – for the better of course.
Difficult Recipes are Written Very Accessibly
Whether or not you are looking to learn to cook, the recipes on Epicurious have a lot to show you. While I will certainly admit that the writing varies a bit depending on the source of the recipe, the quality is consistent throughout. Check out the detail in step one of this braised lamb recipe written especially for Epicurious by NYTimes blogger Mark Bittman (emphasis mine):
Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl. In a large, deep skillet with a tight-fitting cover, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Add as many of the lamb cubes as will fit without crowding and cook, undisturbed, until they are well browned on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. (You will inevitably have to brown in batches.)
A large part of the difficulty of trying a new cuisine or type of dish is the technique. Epicurious gives you, with practically scientific precision, not only cooking times and temperatures, but even what size bowl and thickness of skillet to use. How can you go wrong?
It’s a Highly Comprehensive Collection of Dishes
Somehow, whether I have forgotten what to add to Indian green chutney or Balinese peanut sauce or am looking for some obscure South African lamb casserole my friend is obsessed with, the answer is, far more often than not, available on Epicurious. Deviled Quail Eggs? Check. Frocia ‘i Mulinciani? Uh-huh. I didn’t make that up – it’s Italian baked eggplant. And it’s on Epicurious.
I’m not saying they have everything – if I have to make Marathi aamti, I still have to consult my mother-in-law’s recipe, but sometimes re-jiggering a search term to “Americanize” the name can do wonders. I found this very instructive and detailed recipe for idli under the name “Foamy White Steamed Rice and Bean Dumplings.”
There’s a lot to love about Epicurious. Now let’s see what is more loath-able . . .
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