by Annie Grey (BBC Books £16.99, 314 pp)

Right here’s a useful tip you probably have mates coming over for drinks this weekend: supply them sherry, gin or wine within the thickest glasses you could find.

Why? As a result of the chunkier your glassware, the extra impressed your friends might be by the standard of your booze. For causes nobody can fairly clarify, alcohol in flimsy glasses tastes low-cost.

That is the form of esoteric however helpful data which is the hallmark of BBC Radio 4 programme The Kitchen Cupboard. First broadcast almost ten years in the past, it was dreamed up as a foodie model of the long-running Gardeners’ Query Time, however is relatively hipper and funnier, with panellists who embrace skilled cooks, cookery writers, MasterChef winners and even a professor of philosophy.

Food historian Annie Gray, has compiled the first ever book for BBC Radio 4 programme The Kitchen Cabinet (file image)

Meals historian Annie Grey, has compiled the primary ever guide for BBC Radio 4 programme The Kitchen Cupboard (file picture)

Curiously, there has by no means been a Kitchen Cupboard guide till now, nevertheless it’s been definitely worth the await an almanac which solutions such urgent questions as: why does lasagne all the time style higher the day after you’ve cooked it? Apparently it’s as a result of the starch within the pasta step by step breaks down, releasing sugar, making the lasagne style further creamy and scrumptious if you warmth it up the subsequent day.

Ought to we really feel responsible about carving pumpkins at Halloween, relatively than consuming them? No, since they’re specifically bred for measurement relatively than style, and if you happen to go to the difficulty of roasting one, you’ll be disenchanted by the flavour.

Why is it a foul concept to place apples and bananas collectively within the fruit bowl? Apples give off ethylene, which hastens the ripening strategy of different fruits, and your bananas will go black a lot sooner.

And what’s one of the simplest ways to cope with a pan which has burnt bits caught to the underside? Boil some rhubarb within the pan for ten minutes — the acid within the rhubarb will depart it glowing clear.

Slightly disappointingly, the guide debunks the parable that marmalade was invented for Mary, Queen of Scots. Nor was she the inspiration for Dundee cake, a recipe rumoured to have been dreamed as much as accommodate her dislike of glacé cherries. (As all cake-makers know, it’s nonetheless a horrible fake pas to place cherries in a Dundee cake.)

However who knew that Parmesan has been in style in England since Tudor instances? Henry VIII obtained a style for it in 1511 after the Pope despatched him 100 wheels of the cheese as a Christmas reward.

In 1666, when the Nice Hearth of London was raging, Samuel Pepys buried his Parmesan (alongside together with his wine) within the floor to put it aside from the flames. Sadly, he by no means recorded in his diary whether or not the cheese survived or not.

Expertly compiled by meals historian Annie Grey, who’s a panellist on the programme, this guide has loads of great things concerning the historical past of British meals. Welsh laverbread, made by boiling seaweed till it’s decreased to a salty, blackish-green puree which is filled with protein, has optimistically been rebranded ‘Welshman’s caviar’, a reputation actor Richard Burton helped to popularise.

THE KITCHEN CABINET by Annie Gray (BBC Books £16.99, 314 pp)

THE KITCHEN CABINET by Annie Grey (BBC Books £16.99, 314 pp)

One of many earliest citrus fruits eaten in Britain was the citron, which appears like a thick, knobbly lemon. Though you’ll wrestle to seek out it in retailers, you’ve nearly actually eaten it — as a result of it’s the principle ingredient in combined candied peel.

An endearing side of The Kitchen Cupboard is that it takes junk meals each bit as critically as haute delicacies. A dialogue of find out how to make a crisp sandwich concludes that Hula Hoops work finest, and that including crushed-up crisps is an efficient manner to enhance a mediocre shop-bought sandwich.

As for the common-or-garden baked bean, attempt including a tablespoon of salted butter when heating them: ‘The richness of the butter tempers the acidity of the beans for immediate, never-go- again velvetiness.’

On a extra elevated degree, I used to be to learn that the way in which to swiftly cool simply ruined greens comparable to asparagus, or cease scrambled eggs from persevering with to cook dinner when taken off the hob, is so as to add small cubes of very chilly butter, in a method cooks name monter au beurre.

Nonetheless grasping your disposition, The Kitchen Cupboard is simply too wealthy to learn in a single go, because it leaps from one of the simplest ways to cook dinner kippers with out an excessive amount of of a pong (poach them in milk) to what to do with the inevitable leftover Christmas cake (crumble it right into a bottle of vodka; it gained’t look fairly however all of the sweetness and dried fruit of the cake make a scrumptious drink).

A bit just like the Christmas cake vodka, this interesting guide is finest savoured in small sips.