I am completely new to the Vegan world, and am in the midst of reading Alicia's book and love it and really think I want to join this way of life. I made my first meal from the book today and LOVED it. It's the Moroccan Couscous - however I put the saffron threads in whole, and then read somewhere online you should ground them first! Just wondering what the repercussions may be for me not grounding them - does anyone know? The dish tasted FABULOUS and I did a little happy dance and how great it turned out. I cannot wait to share it, and am making my aunt and uncle a "Vegan" dinner tonight for the first time (they are not Vegan and I will wait until after the meal to clue them in). In any case, any expertise about the saffron thread or anything else would be much appreciated. Thanks!
1) Saffron is sold in threads, and also, as you have seen it, in powdered form. Saffron threads should be ground or crushed before you use them in a recipe, but they have two advantages over pre-ground saffron. First, saffron begins to lose its potency once ground, and there's nothing worse than flavorless powder that you mortgaged your house to buy. Also, powdered saffron can be diluted with either turmeric or ground safflower by nefarious spice merchants without you being the wiser. 2)Since heat releases saffron's flavor essence, it needs to be steeped in hot water, broth, or even alcohol before being added to food. Pre-soaking also allows the color to disperse throughout the food. Preferred Method: For every teaspoon of saffron, add 3 teaspoons of liquid; using a spoon make sure that the saffron threads get properly soaked (do not crush the threads). Let the saffron soak for a minimum of two hours. The mixture can be left soaking for as long as twelve hours, but two hours will give you the proper results. The leaves will expand to 1 1/2 times their dry size. Quick Method: If you are in a hurry or have forgotten to soak the saffron, add 5 teaspoons of liquid for every teaspoon of saffron; let soak for 20 minutes. Using the back of a spoon or in your ceramic mortar, mash the threads so that a thick paste is formed. You can then add the paste to the dish when required.
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