The Mixed Stew crew is taking a short hiatus. Meanwhile, we’re serving reruns of Spring oldies and goodies. We’ll be back with new recipes and ideas on May 23. Cheers!
Post from February 23, 2010
How to paint it red or yellow
Wondering why certain dishes have more pronounced color? Certain spices are known for adding color and flavor. We’ve already discussed annatto, which we’ve added to our arroz con pollo. Saffron and turmeric also add color and flavor to dishes. Here is a short primer on these two other coloring spices:
Saffron – This is the most expensive spice because it takes about one acre of the purple crocus flower to produce about 1lb of saffron. The spice is actually the flower’s stigma. Each flower produces three threads. Thus, harvesting saffron is very labor intensive. Look for reddish-yellow saffron threads. Grocery stores sell saffron in jars of whole threads or in powder form. Cooks target="new"soak whole saffron in warm water to release natural oils. Saffronmay also be toasted. This helps cooks get the most spice flavor from the threads. Saffron-seasoned dishes can have a yellow appearance. The spice is used in many Mediterranean, Spanish, or Indian dishes. The health benefits of saffron include containing antioxidants and treatment of fever and flu symptoms.
Turmeric – This is a cheaper substitute for saffron and is related to the ginger plant. The root of the plant is boiled and then processed into a powder that can dye a dish anywhere from light yellow to orange. Indian curries and spicy dishes call for turmeric. A little turmeric goes a long way in terms of coloring a dish. Turmeric has a bittersweet and slightly peppery taste that can enhance the flavor of a recipe. Look for turmeric powder at major supermarkets. Turmeric is a proven anti-inflammatory agent and may also help treat rheumatoid arthritis.