Highly prized as a dye, medication and culinary spice since Greek and Roman times, saffron is the stigma of a type of crocus, Crocus sativus, which was once grown all over Europe, including in England. It has a distinctive and lasting aroma, and a pleasant pungency if used sparingly. Because of its striking color, as well as its distinctive flavor, saffron is frequently added to celebration dishes; for example, pilaus from India, Spanish paella and Italian risotto Milanese. Bouillabaisse, the famous French fish and shellfish soup-stew, is flavored with saffron. The spice is also widely used in sweet recipes, including milky rice and sweet custard-like desserts. Baked goods flavored with saffron include breads and cakes.
Saffron threads can be infused (steeped) in a little warm water or milk until the color of the liquid is even. Add the liquid and the threads to the dish, usually towards the end of the cooking process. Saffron powder can be added to food without soaking, but not to hot oil.
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