Outside the Margins

New apps give cookbooks life beyond the shelf

A published cookbook exists as a complete and finished entity, not to be altered until it's deemed ready for a new edition.

That said, there have been numerous times we've hankered for a book's instructions to continue beyond the back cover.

Aiming to satisfy that desire, Chronicle Books has introduced a line of new apps that digitally build on topics introduced in their cookbooks. Some are direct auxiliaries to a specific title, such as The Art of the Slow Cooker app ($4). It cherry-picks recipes from the cookbook, providing easy shopping lists for the chosen recipes, and it also allows users to post notes and photos to friends on Twitter or Facebook.

Our favorite apps, however, exist as stand-alone creations: The Asian Market Shopper ($4) app can act as an extension to any of your favorite Asian cookbooks. It helps users identify ingredients thanks to a gallery that includes photos and descriptions of 100 commonly used Asian staples, and its series of videos with preparation tips is like a cooking school in the palm of your hand.

So far, only three apps have made it to the market, but more are rolling out soon: Keep a look out for an app featuring Rick Bayless's expertise on Mexican cuisine.