I used a couple of cookbooks that I rediscovered while trying to do the Lucky Seven challenge. One of my favorites is Fearless in the Kitchenby Christine Cushing (you can see her on FoodTV).
and the other is Quick Vegetarian Pleasuresby Jeanne Lemlin, both have somehow languished on the bookshelf for way too long. This Saffron Shrimp on Couscous Salad is a marriage of the two. I also found the recipe for this flank steak marinated in a vinaigrette in Everyday Food .
"Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a species of crocus in the family Iridaceae. The flower has three stigmas, which are the distal ends of the plant's carpels. Together with its style, the stalk connecting the stigmas to the rest of the plant, these components are often dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and colouring agent. Saffron, which has for decades been the world's most expensive spice by weight, is native to Southwest Asia. It was first cultivated in the vicinity of Greece.
Saffron is characterised by a bitter taste and an iodoform- or hay-like fragrance; these are caused by the chemicals picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a carotenoid dye, crocin, that gives food a rich golden-yellow hue. These traits make saffron a much-sought ingredient in many foods worldwide. Saffron also has medicinal applications.
The word saffron originated from the 12th-century Old French term safran, which derives from the Latin word safranum. Safranum is also related to the Italian zafferano and Spanish azafrán. Safranum comes from the Arabic word afar (أَصْفَر),
which means "yellow," via the paronymous za-farān (زَعْفَرَان), the name of the spice in Arabic."
This site says that 75,000 flowers are needed to produce 1 lb/500g of saffron threads! So just use a pinch - it's very effective and very wonderful. Add it to any rice , pasta or couscous dish you usually prepare and you won't believe the magical transformation.
By the way, I've put some of the saffron sauce aside to use as a marinade for the chicken I'm serving tonight....stay tuned. And have a great weekend.