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I’m just mad about Saffron…Saffron’s madly expensive…

So, back for another edition of Spice Week, the cooking celebration of the reuniting of the Spice Girls.  Yesterday, we looked at a way to make a warm herbed goat cheese with herbs de’ Provence which can be enjoyed as is. 

However, by using another great spice, in this case, saffron, we can make an excellent topping for the goat cheese with a Spanish twist.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • 1 medium white onion 
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoons of pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flake
  • 1 tablspoon of Spanish paprika
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of green olives
  • 1 healthy pinch of saffron cooked in 2 tablespoons of hot tap water
  • 1/2 pound of 21 to 25 count shrimp (cooked), tails removed
  1. Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  2. When the skillet is hot, add the onions, garlic, a good pinch of salt, paprika, black pepper and red pepper flake.  Cook until the onions are very soft.
  3. When the onions are soft, add the can of diced tomatoes.  Bring the liquid to a boil and cook to reduce the sauce by 1/3.
  4. Wash the green olives and give them a rough chop.  When the sauce has reduced to the desired thickness, add the olives and let them get warm.
  5. Add the saffron and let the color of the spice spread throughout the sauce.
  6. Add the shrimp at the last minute and keep the skillet on the heat just long enough for the shrimp to get warm.  If you prefer, you can add uncooked shrimp at the same time as the green olives and cook them until they turn pink.

Take a healthy spoonful of the saffron-tomato-shrimp mixture and use it to top the goat cheese.   Tell me how you like it.

Interesting saffron facts: Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because it can only be harvested by hand and is deadly in large amounts.  Enjoy!!

Welcome back to another (slightly later than I would have liked) edition of Spice Week.  In celebration of the Spice Girls reuniting, this week is all about how to use spices in your cooking.

And yes, I realize that herbs de’Provence are herbs and not spices, but bear with me here.  They’re a handy little thing to have for cooking.

Firstly, what are herbs de’ Provence?  Well, they’re herbs…from…Provence, France…

Actually, herbs de’ Provence are a mixture of dried herbs all of which are typically found in abundance in the Provence region of southeastern France and typically contain rosemary, marjoram, basil, bay and thyme.  Sometimes sage or lavendar are added as well.  They are an earthy mix of herbs that are used to add a natural, woodsy flavor to cooked foods.

Use herbs de’ Provence with either very robust flavors like beef or lamb or when you want the herbs to be the star of the show like in herbed chicken or in brown butter sauce poured over cheese ravoli.  Why then?  Well, the herbs in question, especially thyme and rosemary, are very strong and can easily drown out mild flavors like most vegetables or seafood.

Here’s something I am considering doing with some of my herbs de’ Provence.

You will need:

  • One tube of soft goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup of flower
  • 1/4 cup herbs de’ Provence
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • cooking spray (yes cooking spray…)
  1. Make sure the goat cheese is fresh out of the refrigerator when you prepare this recipe.
  2. Cut the goat cheese into medallions about 1/3 inch thick.  If the cheese is very soft, spin the cheese and press the outer edge of the circle inwards to firm it up almost like folding the edge of a pizza crust.
  3. Mix the flour, herbs, black pepper, and salt together in a plate or wide bowl.
  4. Place the goat cheese medallions on the flour/herb/spice mixture and coat both sides liberally.  As you coat the medallion, press down gently to really get the herbs and flour to stick.
  5. Let the medallions rest in the refrigerator for 5 minutes while the skillet preheats over medium heat.
  6. Coat the skillet and saute two to four medallions over medium heat until the cheese/flour is golden.  This should take about 2-3 minutes per side.

Enjoy as is or tune in tomorrow for my advice on how to top the goat cheese.