Preparation time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours (not all active time)
Serving: About 8 cups
Using no-salt-added diced tomatoes and tomato paste because of the salt in the stock.
3 lobster tails
4 cups water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups white wine
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup celery, chopped
1 large shallot, peeled, chopped
1 tablespoon no-salt-added tomato paste
1 can (14 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 to 3 tablespoons sherry
½ teaspoon (a good pinch) of saffron threads
½ to 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Croutons for serving
Cut each tail in half, lengthwise (using scissors works best). In a large pot with a steamer basket place the water and stir in the kosher salt. Heat the water over medium-high heat. Add the halved lobster tails and steam for about 7 minutes. Remove the tails and reserve the water for the stock.
Once the tails are cooled, remove the meat from the shell, chop it coarsely and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the lobster shells for about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, bringing it to a boil and reducing until most of the wine has evaporated. Transfer the mixture (shells and all) to the reserved lobster water. Add the vegetable or chicken broth and simmer about 45 minutes. Strain out the shells and discard them; reserve the stock.
Meanwhile, in the same skillet, heat the butter. Add celery and shallots and sauté until fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook it a few minutes. Stir in the sherry and cook until it almost evaporates. Add the strained seafood stock, tomatoes and a good pinch of saffron; simmer 45 minutes.
Purée the soup using an immersion blender, or transfer the mixture, in batches if needed, to a blender. Return to the skillet and stir in ½ cup heavy cream; heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add more cream to reach desired consistency.
Just before you are ready to serve, heat the lobster chunks in a skillet with a little bit of butter. Place the chunks in serving cup or bowl and ladle in the bisque. Top with croutons if desired.
From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
Photo by Stuart_spivackttps://www.flickr.com/photos/stuart_spivack/3036712527
an ancient medicinal plant and the most expensive of spices, has always had a magical, addictive power. Cleopatra took saffron-infused baths to enhance her allure. Alexander the Great used it to heal the wounds of battle. Many Iranians believe that in its pure form, saffron works as an antioxidant, an antidepressant and a culinary weapon against Alzheimer’s, cancer and degeneration of the eyes.
In Iran, which produces more than 80 percent of the 250 tons produced worldwide each year, saffron is omnipresent, in stews, kebabs, rice dishes, sweets. A recent visit to a Tehran supermarket turned up at least a dozen saffron-infused products, including cotton candy, rock sugar to sweeten tea and sohan, a traditional saffron brittle toffee.
It is often said that saffron is worth its weight in gold because it is so difficult and labor-intensive to cultivate and harvest. For several weeks every fall, the crocus sativus flower blooms.
At that moment, saffron producers throw themselves into the harvest. They pick the flowers early in the morning, and on the same day gently tease the bright red, three-filament stigma from each flower and dry them. It takes about 150,000 flowers to produce a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of saffron.
Little wonder, then, that the precious powder has spawned a trade rife with the kind of deceptions and distortions typical of traffic in gems or illicit drugs: cheap substitutes, diluted shipments, false labeling. Today, a battle over the future of the “gold of cuisine” is underway, as its world is transformed by speculation and market upheaval.
Several scientists and saffron experts have banded together to form a movement they call “Saffronomics.” Their mission is threefold: to improve saffron production and marketing; to determine its purity and place of origin; and to impose order on an unregulated market.
250g/10oz basmati rice
½ tsp saffron strands
2 tbsp orange flower water
25g/1oz unsalted butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
4 small shallots, trimmed and finely sliced
2.5cm/1in piece cinnamon stick
8 green cardamom pods
6 dried bay leaves
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp almonds, blanched, peeled and slivered
1 tbsp unsalted pistachios, blanched, peeled and slivered
1 tbsp unsalted cashews, halved
salt, to taste
1 litre/2 pints water
1- Wash the rice in several changes of water to remove the excess starch until the water runs clear. Cover with fresh water and set aside to soak. This produces fluffier, softer rice and ensures that each grain remains separate.
2- Crush the saffron lightly in a pestle and mortar, then pour over the orange flower water and set aside to soak.
3- Heat the butter and oil in a large lidded pan and fry the shallots over a high heat until dark brown and crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
4- Lower the heat and fry the spices and nuts in the remaining fat for a few minutes until they begin to change colour.
5- Drain the rice and add to the pan along with the salt, saffron and orange flower water. Cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes.
6- Pour in the water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Allow to cool slightly.
7- To serve, fluff up the grains of rice with a fork and sprinkle over the shallots. Remove the whole spices before eating.
Total Time: 20 min
800 g skinless chicken thigh fillets
1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
125 ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, for cooking
125 ml (½ cup) lemon juice
1½ tsp salt
1½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¾ tsp saffron threads
steamed rice, Greek yoghurt, roasted tomatoes, grilled onion and mint leaves, to serve
Marinating time overnight
(You will need to start this recipe one day in advance)
Cut the thigh fillets into 3 cm pieces and place them in a non-reactive bowl. Combine the onion and oil in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process briefly to combine well. Pour the mixture over the chicken then, using clean hands, mix well to coat chicken evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, stirring the chicken occasionally to evenly colour it with the saffron.
Drain the chicken well, reserving the marinade. Thread the chicken pieces tightly onto 8 metal skewers. Heat a char-grill pan or barbecue to medium-high and brush with the oil. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes, turning often, seasoning well and brushing with a little of the reserved marinade. The chicken should be a little charred and cooked through.
Serve with the rice, yoghurt, tomato, onion and mint.
3 tbsp olive oil
6 large carrots, chopped (if you have the greens, save a couple of stems)
1 tbsp fresh, roughly chopped carrot greens (or you can sub in parsley, or omit)
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 heaping tsp minced ginger
3 pinches saffron threads
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
Optional: garnish with more carrot greens and sliced radish
Heat your soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat and add olive oil.
Add the chopped shallots and carrots to the oil, stirring for approx. 10 minutes to soften.
Next, add garlic and add salt and pepper to taste, continue stirring for a couple of minutes.
Add stock, water, ginger, saffron and carrot greens or parsley, stir and raise the heat to medium-high and bring all to a boil.
Once the soup is boiling, lower the heat to low and cover & simmer for 25 minutes.
Turn heat off, lift the lid, remove the bay leaf, and with a hand blender, puree the soup (and shield your eyes!) 😉 – or if you don’t have one, just pour it into a standing blender and use the puree setting.
Suggested garnish: sliced radishes and more carrot greens or parsley and serve.
Total Time: 40 min
1/4 teaspoon saffron, 2 pinches
1 pound thick spaghetti, such as Barilla brand
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 pound pancetta, cut like thick bacon at deli counter then diced
4 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 egg yolks
1 cup grated pecorino cheese
A generous handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Place the saffron in a small pot with 1 cup cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let it steep while pasta water comes to a boil, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water and cook pasta to al dente. Heads up: reserve a half cup of starchy cooking water just before you drain spaghetti.
While the water comes to a boil, heat olive oil, 3 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until just about crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the garlic after 2 to 3 minutes and stir another 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant. Stir in wine and turmeric. Beat eggs with starchy cooking water. Drain pasta and add to the skillet. Pour saffron water over the pasta and toss to combine, season with pepper. Add in half the cheese and all of the parsley, pour in tempered eggs and turn off heat. Toss the spaghetti to coat evenly in golden sauce. Top with additional cheese and serve immediately.
Spiced Saffron Rice
Total Time: 32 min
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
7 whole cloves
5 cardamom pods, if desired
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 tablespoons milk
In a large bowl wash rice in several changes of cold water until the water runs clear and drain it in a fine sieve.
In a large heavy saucepan heat the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking, add the cinnamon stick, the cloves, and the cardamom pods, if using, and fry the spices, stirring, for 30 seconds, or until the cloves are puffed slightly. Add rice and cook the mixture, stirring, for 1 minute, or until the rice is opaque. Add 2 1/4 cups water and the salt, bring the mixture to a boil, and cook the rice, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, in a heatproof bowl set over a small pan of simmering water heat the saffron for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it is brittle. Add milk, heat the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it is hot, and remove the pan from the heat. Drizzle the saffron mixture over the rice and continue to cook the rice, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
Total Time: 50 min
Servings: 4 – 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chicken cutlets (scallopine)
2 shallots, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season the chicken Cutlets with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until golden and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to serving Plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Turn the heat to medium, add the shallot and the garlic and cook until tender, about 2 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is almost evaporated.
Add the chicken broth and saffron threads bring to a simmer and reduce for 10 minutes. Add the cream, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and simmer for 1 minute to blend the flavors. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
Total Time: 40-50 minutes
a generous pinch of saffron
6 tablespoon warm water
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless and skinless chicken
breasts (about 600g/1lb 5oz total weight), each cut into chunks
2 sprigs thyme
2 medium onions, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into strips
100ml dry white wine
125ml light chicken stock
250g basmati rice
100g frozen peas (or fresh, cooked)
Put the saffron in a small bowl and pour over the warm water. Bruise the strands with the back of a teaspoon to fix the colour, and set aside while you prepare the rest.
Heat the olive oil in a large, weighty casserole, and when hot tip in the chicken. Stir fry for a minute or two over a high heat to seal in the juices, then set aside.
Strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs and scatter into the pan along with the onions and garlic. Fry until golden then pour in the lime juice. Turn the heat down a tad, add the pepper and continue cooking for another 5 minutes before adding the wine, stock and seasoning. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 6 minutes until the meat is tender and the liquid has cooked down a little.
Meanwhile, cook the rice in a pan of fast boiling water until tender, but with a slight bite. Drain in a colander and rinse with warm water. Heap over the chicken while still on the heat. Drizzle with the saffron and its soaking liquid, and scatter over the peas. Don’t stir the chicken and rice at this stage, but cover and cook over a low-moderate heat until the rice is fluffy and the liquid reduced to a few tablespoons – about 3 minutes. Before serving, gently mix the saffron-streaked rice with the chicken and pepper mixture.
Total Time: 2 Hours
1 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
1 cup boiling water
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
Add all ingredients to list
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Stir the saffron threads into the boiling water, and cover. Set aside to steep for several minutes while proceeding with the recipe.
Toss the bread crumbs together with the melted butter and lay out evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and crispy, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped cauliflower and saffron water; season to taste with salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer, uncovered, until the cauliflower has softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the raisins, pine nuts, and cooked ziti. Pour into a serving dish and sprinkle with browned bread crumbs.