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It was only after I’d said that I’d review The Little App Factory’s Connoisseur that the realisation struck me – what use would a student have for a recipe manager? Baked beans and spaghetti Bolognese are the stuff of student diets, not walnut shortbread and creamy fettuccine, just two of the many recipes that come preloaded with the application, sitting alongside such delights as 7-Up Apple Dumplings, the ingredients for which I have not yet made time to find…

Connoisseur main window
The Connoisseur main window

The main screen is uncomplicated, adopting, as the web site boasts, an iTunes Browse-style interface, with Cuisine, Course and Ingredient taking the place of Artist, Album and Genre, and a list of recipes, descriptions, ratings (both stars and difficulty) and yield below that. A series of icons – well-spaced so as not to be cluttered – adorn the toolbar at the top, and a Source list down the left hand side, does, like iTunes, allow you to group recipes as one would tracks in a playlist. In short, the interface mimics iTunes well, and most users should feel right at home.

Double clicking on a recipe pops up a new window, laying out the recipe details – a summary, the ingredients and then the directions. More useful for that iBook you carry around or the iMac in the kitchen is Cooking View, which gives a full screen display of the recipe in a larger font. Ticking a box will have the computer read the steps to you, although there appears to be no way to get it to pause indefinitely between the reading of each step. Still, this is a useful feature for the chef with both hands full. There is also a Print option which produces a decent looking hard copy of any recipe in the database.

Connoisseur add/edit recipe window
The add/edit recipe window

Adding a new recipe is simple, and just a matter of filling in a form to categorise it properly, then adding the ingredients (with auto-completion to speed the process up) and directions. Recipes can be subsequently using the Edit Recipe toolbar icon or from the File menu, which brings up the same form. One minor gripe is that after you close an edited recipe, your browse settings are reset and you start back with the large list of all the recipes again – perhaps this is by design, but it seemed irritating to me.

Connoisseur also supports importing recipes documented in the standard RecipeML format.

The Shopping List feature is nice. Click the “Add to Shopping List” icon, and the ingredients for the current recipe are added to a list which you can export to your iPod or to HandyShopper (for viewing on your Palm PC). I presume the iPod export requires a newer iPod – my 2G iPod gave an “Export unsuccessful” error – and I have no Palm PC to test out HandyShopper support. For individuals such as myself, the Print option works fine.

The downside to the Shopping List feature is that, as it stands, it cannot combine quantities from multiple recipes – I have a shopping list here instructing me to buy both 560 grammes of 7-Up and also 1 1/2 cups of it. However, according to the documentation, this will be fixed in a later version.

The Preferences window contains a few options – measurement system, double click customisation and so on – and also allows you to customise the categories in the Cuisines and Courses lists by which you browse your recipe library. These seem slightly hidden away – I would perhaps have preferred an appropriately-located plus button in the Browse window – but at least it keeps things tidy. Finally, you can maintain a list of units and their abbreviations.

Connoisseur is a nice little application that does what it is supposed to do very well. The interface is very much in keeping with Mac conventions on design, and for keyboard junkies is endowed with a whole plethora of combinations for you to get your fingers round. The only issues I have with it are very minor, and otherwise have no qualms in recommending it to anyone looking for a better way to manage their recipes than that loose collection of dog-eared papers that seem to end up in a drawer in the kitchen somewhere. And at $20, for the functionality it offers and the organisational benefits it brings, it’s a steal.

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