Here's a look at food writer Michael Ruhlman's The Book of Schmaltz: A Love Song To a Forgotten Fat, with photos by Donna Ruhlman. The app is on sale for $7.99 today for iPad, and will soon be followed by versions for other digital platforms. (There will also be a regular old printed dead tree book published next Fall.) Ruhlman tells Eater he finds the digital format attractive because he's interested in experimenting in self-publishing, and because apps allow the flexibility of doing things like "combining my Ratio app within an ebook format." Schmaltz makes use of both audio recordings and slideshow capabilities.
The nice thing about the digital format, as Ruhlman writes on his blog, is that it allows for a short, focused, single subject book. The content benefits from that focus: traditional uses for schmaltz as well as what he calls "contemporary" recipes are offered, but there aren't an excessive number of either. Ruhlman isn't struggling to fill pages here, with recipes for dairy-free schmaltz fudge or whatever. He just tells you how to make schmaltz, and then offers some good ideas for what to do with it. To be exact, there are 23 recipes; compare to a typical cookbook's 50 recipes or more.
It's not perfect: navigation is at times clunky, and the app doesn't have a search feature. The book's layout accommodates single-screen recipes where possible, but at times you might have to flip back and forth between screens, a messy trick when you're up to your elbows in chicken fat.
That being said, in these early days of digital cookbook publishing, a few navigational bumps are to be expected. The photography is gorgeous (especially on the new fancy retina screens) and the writing is top-level (as one might expect from a Beard Award winner who has written books with Thomas Keller). Below, a video preview of The Book of Schmaltz:
Video: Book of Schmaltz (A Cookbook For the iPad)