No Recipe, No Problem

Food52's new Not(Recipes) app is great when the recipe is just too much

Confession: When I'm cooking at home, I don't always follow recipes. I'm more likely to read my cookbooks in bed than in the kitchen while making a dish. I look to recipes for ideas first, to get the general gist of how to make something, and then set off into the kitchen to get to work.

Apparently, I'm not alone. The editors of Food52 have honed in on us non-recipe users and created an app for cooks who need some new inspiration as opposed to step-by-step directions. The app, called Not(Recipes), was released this week and functions a bit like Instagram+: Users post a photo of a dish (with fun photo filters named for Julia, Ina, Mario and the like) give it a name, an ingredient list and general directions. Think dessert dishes that simply read "pear poached in hibiscus (tea bags!!) syrup and cinnamon" and granola bars with the caption, "Toasted oats, quinoa and pumpkin seed. Mixed in brown rice syrup, brown sugar and coconut oil syrup with salt and dried blueberries."

Once posted, other users can like a photo (which saves it) and comment, asking the creator questions about the dish—not quite like having Grandma on speed dial, but it's helpful, particularly when making something new. Hashtags help with navigation, and there's even a whole section for featured dishes that the editors curate: a bowl of verdant, lemony pea soup with sour cream and pink peppercorns, hot smoked salmon toast, a tangle of pasta with Parm and bread crumbs.

If you need me, I'll be in the kitchen.