An essential in paella, saffron threads are handpicked from the centre of the crocus flower, bringing colour and a musty, hay-like flavour to the dish. A little goes a long way; use about 8-12 threads per meal. And bear in mind that saffron’s flavour intensifies in a dish the second day. When buying, look for deep red saffron. Heat releases saffron's flavour so it needs to be steeped in hot (but not boiling) water, broth, or even alcohol before being added to food. For every teaspoon of saffron, add three teaspoons of liquid. Let the saffron soak for a minimum of two hours for optimum flavour or for as long as 12 hours. Saffron can also be toasted in a heavy pan over low heat. Be careful not to let it burn or it will be useless. Grind threads into a powder and use as directed in the recipe. From supermarkets or specialty food stores.