Most people in the United States consider Thanksgiving the official food holiday, so Christmas doesn’t get the acknowledgement it truly deserves for being a big day for delicious turkeys, colorful side dishes and tasty desserts.
Sure, many of us will use family recipes and call Mom to get last-minute cooking tips, but some of us will be in the dark about what to prepare and just how to prepare it.
Of course you can pull out that dust-riddled cook book that you’ve had since your first apartment, but many times you’ve tried the recipes that you've liked already, while ignoring the ones you didn’t.
Or you can jump on your laptop and search for a particular recipe online and hope you find something that catches your eye and palette, but how do you know if what you’re cooking will actually come out good?
To help in this particular area, the website Punchfork.com gathers the most popular recipes from top cooking sites like Bon Appetit, Simply Recipes and Picky Palate and lets you know which ones are considered the best.
The site is kind of like Indeed.com or Kayak that allows you do a specialized search of a bunch of sites with a single entry.
Punchfork says it uses social data from sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to gather which recipes have garnered the most chatter amongst the Internet community, and the company says it creates a ranking system which determines which recipes are not only the most popular, but churn out the highest quality dishes.
Users of Punchfork can either search the site by a particular dish they’re craving or browse the site and bookmark the recipes that catch their eye. You can even search for recipes according to the ingredients that you have left over in your refrigerator.
You can also do a filter search and look for recipes that follow a particular diet or eating preference like a vegetarian diet, gluten-free or a low-sodium diet and you can also conduct broad searchers like typing in the word “holiday” for example, which brings up multiple pages of dishes and desserts that you can prepare for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza.
And once your search results are available, huge colorful photos of the dish are displayed, just so you know how the finished product is supposed to look once it’s done.
Punchfork also lets you sort recipes by which ones are trending on Twitter or on blogs, and you can search for recipes that have just been added to the site. You can also seperate searches by the most Facebook “likes” a recipe has received.
The company says its search options differ dramatically from other recipe sites that display information with no rhyme or reason, where the user doesn’t know which dishes and recipes are the absolute best and which ones may be worth a try.
You can also put your own recipes on Punchfork, which could be a good test to see if the dishes that you’ve come up with will be liked and admired by others who supposedly know a lot about food.
Also, if you’re a budding chef who wants to make a little name for yourself, throwing out a couple of recipes and getting credit for them can only help you get popularity among the food community.
Like many successful start-up sites these days, Punchfork uses social networking to its maximum benefit, allowing users to share dishes and discuss them back and forth, which makes searching and trying recipes much more fun than thumbing through a cookbook or going to just one website for dish ideas.
Punchfork’s founder Jeff Miller says he got the idea for the site by just thumbing through food publications while shopping.
“The inspiration for Punchfork came from the foodie magazines at the grocery checkout line,” said Miller in an interview with Forbes . “There’s something very tantalizing and thrilling about leafing through page after page of delicious-looking pictures of food.”
“The idea for Punchfork was simply to take that experience of browsing amazing food photos, relocate it to the web and blow it up 1,000 times larger with an automated feed in real time from the best food bloggers. The problem is that nobody wants to read a magazine with 50,000 pages. There has to be some form of curation involved,” he said.
Punchfork also has an app for Apple devices that can be downloaded for free in the iTunes store.