Spices - Saffron fans?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The food thread has a ton of great ideas. I know a while back we had a post about deals on saffron.

    I just got my spices from www.myspicesage.com yesterday. It is my third order and I was again very happy with the quality. I got a notice about their current deal.

    Right now, and likely for a few days, with ANY order you get 1 gram of spanish saffron for free. Yes, for free. You also can choose a one ounce sample of another item (from a very long list) for free. Orders over $40 ship for just $4.

    They normally sell 1/2 gram of spanish saffron for $7 and 1 gram for $11. The value of the other spice will vary based on your choice.

    Given all our talk of raspberry habanero jelly on cream cheese, and rosemary apple pie, I thought this might be of interest. The spices are dried and not fresh off the plant, but they are much fresher than any I have purchased in the grocery store lately.

    I made the mistake of letting husband and thank you know that I got 1/4 inch diced dried jalapenos for my sample. They went through almost 1/4 of the bag eating them like candy! thank you said they are as flavorful as the ones he grew last summer with husband - very high praise from him, lol. I don't know if they will last long enough for me to figure out a recipe for a barbecue/chili pepper granola with bits of dried jalapeno in them!
  2. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I only use it for paella. Somehow the past few years I have lost my creativity in the kitchen. on the other hand, I can live vicariously and I'm hyped that you are "into" new culinary efforts. Maybe next year I can get back on the band wagon. Hugs. DDD
  3. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Wow, thanks Susie! They sell ras el hanout which I use in North African tagines. That's terrific, I've actually found saffron powder at Marshalls but have run out. Do they have Marshalls in OK?
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Try making your own ras el hanout. It's basically Moroccan mixed spice. These days I make my own spice blends, including making my own curry powders.

    Saffron - I love it, but I don't use it in everything that calls for it. Saffron is expensive but it is also very delicately flavoured. There's not a lot of point putting saffron in recipes that are strongly flavoured elsewhere, other than the colour. And turmeric can give you the same colour (close). Some of my curries need to have the strong yellow colour, or they look very unappetising. Beef korma, for example, can look revolting because the combination of stewed beef plus yogurt can look grey. But saffron or turmeric (I tend to use turmeric in curries and Moroccan) is a cheap option.

    Where I can't do without saffron, is in risotto.

    Another important thing I've found with saffron - how to use it. Please do not do what too many TV chefs do, and chuck in some saffron threads into your stew. You will get yellow 'hot spots' and the trace of threads will still be there in your finished dish. Also, you need a lot more saffron threads to get the same effect, if you just toss it in.

    No, the best way to use the saffron - before you start cooking, put the saffron threads into your dry pan, and toast them on the heat (no oil, nothing but saffron) until the threads darken slightly and go crisp. Then put the toasted saffron threads into your mortar along with a half teaspoon of moderately coarse salt, and a chopped clove of garlic. Grind away, if you toasted it well it won't take long. I have ground it well and easily, even without the garlic. The salt helps break it up. The paste goers a beautifully intense orange colour, and you then scrape it into your casserole.

    I used to steep saffron threads in hot water (or hot stock) but found I did not get as good a result. My toasting method is for me the way to get the best result. Steeping the saffron is still a better alternative than just chucking it in.

    We get most of our saffron in Australia, imported from Iran. However, there is an increasing production of saffron in Tasmania. It is too warm for us here in Sydney to grow saffron.

    If you eat Moroccan food, have you tried making your own pickled lemons? I've made jars and jars of them, I use them sparingly in Italian food too. I can't believe the price of a jar of pickled lemons from the providore's. They are tiny and cost about $5 each. If I make them myself, I can do ti for $5 for a huge jar full. And most of that is the price of the jar!

  5. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    No, I haven't tried it. Knowing the difference between a good sheep's/goat's milk feta and the pallid imitation of the cow's milk variety, I can imagine the added dimension of smen over ghee (cows milk based).

    husband mentioned on another thread, that he loves feta. But it has to be a good sheep's milk or goat's milk feta, not always easy for us to find because Aussie tastes tend to the more commercially acceptable cow's milk stuff. The cow's milk feta can be sliced into neat little cubes which look better in a cafe's serving tray, and therefore look more appealing to customers who don't know any better. People then get used to the taste. But we have managed to find our favourite feta and go through about a kilo of it a month.

    I had some people visit me for lunch one day, I made Greek salad for them, with our good feta. These people were a bit snobbish, I knew they looked down on me a bit because we did not live in the socially upwardly mobile parts of Sydney (where they think anyone who doesn't live where they do, is socially beneath them). One of the women commented that she loves Greek salad; I told her that this was my own recipe, developed from my own experience of some of the best salads in Greece. She took one bite of the salad with the good feta, and spat it out! And glared at me, as if I had tried to poison her! She complained tat the feta was too strongly flavoured; I said, "It's the authentic stuff." Of course, this showed her up as not being as cosmopolitan in her culinary experiences as me; she barely ever spoke to me after that. It was a very unpleasant lunch. I left my salad for a few minutes to throw together a French green salad for her, but she had lost face and was very angry with me.

    Some people really are silly over such little things.

    As for using the smen - not sure I would go to those lengths. I grew up with goats and drinking goats' milk, I'm not sure I would be bothered with ageing a batch of boiled milk.

    Moroccan preserved lemons - first I get a large jar with no metal in the lid. Sterilise the jar - I usually find if it's been through the dishwasher, all I need to do is then scald it with boiling water, then let it drain upside down. After that, never touch the inside with your bare fingers.
    Next - get some lemons, preferably cheap ones off your own tree (or from a generous neighbour). Cut through the lemons almost all the way, then cut again at 90 degrees, so you get a lemon with two vertical cuts almost right through, so it opens up a little like a four-petalled flower. Open it a little and pack generously inside the cuts with spiced salt. Cram the salty spicy lemons into the jar. Pack them in as tightly as you can, squeezing them as much as you need to get them in tightly. Of course some juice will come out - that is good.
    Keep salting and packing until the jar is full. As the jar fills, pour in more seasoned salt over every layer too. Squeeze a few more lemons and top up the jar with lemon juice. The lemons should be covered with liquid. Put it in a dark cupboard for about 6 weeks before you use it. You can use it sooner, but the flavours won't have had time to develop. You have to use a lot of salt, because if you don't then bugs and mould will grow and ruin the lot. A good batch - the lemon skins go clear-ish and a little darker, but otherwise it all looks OK.

    Some recipes say to top up with water, but I find juice seems to help preserve the lemons better.

    Seasoned salt mix - I use cheap bulk cooking salt, and add my own spices. Whole peppercorns (I use pink ones as well as black ones); a crumbled cinnamon stick; whole star anise; any other spices. You can use slices of ginger if you want.

    To use the lemons, I've found I do have to remove the fruit pulp. If I don't, it upsets husband's stomach. I use them fairly sparingly, about quarter to half a lemon in a casserole that uses about a kilo of meat. I carefully remove it from the jar (trying to keep it uncontaminated by my hands) and seal the jar up again. Carefully cut out the flesh of the lemon and discard it. Slice the peel thinly, chop it up in tiny bits and stir it into the casserole. The flavours from the spiced salt will spread through the dish. Don't add any salt to the recipe until you've tasted it after adding the lemon.

    I have used this in crock-pot recipes too, including Italian cooking. I like to mix traditions sometimes, you can discover some wonderful tastes that way.

    3S, what do you put in with your lemons?