Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saffron The Delicate Spice

Nothing gives flavor, substance and color like saffron. It's the most delicate of all the spices yet it can transform simple dishes into gourmet treats. Even though it is one of the most expensive flavorings, the price is well worth it. Its' mellow taste and golden color is worth a million bucks and really, no other spice is comparable to it.

Saffron 's history starts off 3,500 years ago. Cooks first noticed that crocuses produced stigmas coated in a flavorful pollen. It was a staple in many Bronze Age Greek dishes as well as being a dye and a medicine during that time It was so populat that even. Ovid mentioned it in his Metamorphosis. Other ancient cultures used it in their cooking and for therapy as well. Saffron became the gold of spices during the Middle Ages and was also thought of as such, centuries later, in the American colonies. Even the Pennsylvania Dutch had an offshoot sect where the worshippers put saffron on a pedestal, using it in many trout, cake, chicken and noodle dishes.

The best known saffron recipe today is risotto Milanese. This is where alborio rice is cooked with onion and chicken stock. A generous amount of saffron threads and butter are later added to produce the most heavenly dish on earth. I love this form of risot (as we call it). Actually it tastes better reheated with more butter. There's something in the reheating that brings out the true flavor of this spice. Saffron can be used in other rice dishes such as paella. The English were famous for making saffron buns which are a nice treat if you're having a formal tea. You can add it to any chicken or fish dish for flavor and color.

The one spice to add to your spice rack is saffron. Never be without it. It adds to so many different dishes, transforming ordinary dishes into gourmet fare. it is just pure magic!!!

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