Let’s say you’re at the farmers market and you realize that eggplant and zucchini are plentiful and inexpensive. You think to yourself, “I should make ratatouille. I wish I knew exactly what I needed to make ratatouille.”

You could pull out your smartphone and do a keyword search for ratatouille. Or, if you have an iPhone, you could use the free Foodgawker app to find a ratatouille recipe from a photo that's so perfect, it makes your mouth water. It’s a convenient, fast, and visually appealing way to pick recipes when you don’t have access to your home recipe library. I’ve recently installed the app on my phone, and I thought I’d share my thoughts about it.

Foodgawker is an online gallery of food photos submitted by food bloggers. The editors of the site choose what they consider to be “the highest quality, most appealing images” to include on their site. They then link back to the blog where the photo originally appeared along with the recipe for the dish featured in the photo. It’s an interesting way of searching for recipes.

The Foodgawker app lets you browse the tens of thousands of photographs on their site from your iPhone. If you search for “ratatouille,” the app will currently bring up 59 photos of the dish. Touch the photo that appeals to you most and it will enlarge. Touch the enlarged photo and it will take you to the blog post that included that photo and recipe. You’ll then have the ingredients to make ratatouille right at your fingertips. I like picking recipes this way, but I know there can be some risks.

When it comes to picking recipes from blogs for a dish you’ve never made before, there’s always a risk. Unlike picking a recipe from a dedicated recipe site such as Allrecipes.com where users can rate and comment on the recipes they’ve actually made, many times the comments on a food blog are nothing more than, “Wow. This looks amazing. I can’t wait to make it.”

The only way to know if the recipe will actually be to your taste is to use your common sense about ingredients, and then make it. As you become a more experienced cook, you’ll get better at picking recipes that are more likely to turn out well.

Do you use either Foodgawker or the Foodgawker app to choose recipes to make? What has your experience been?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

The Foodgawker iPhone app
When you don't have access to your own recipe library, use this app to choose a recipe based on how much your mouth waters when you look at a picture of the fin