Steep the saffron in 1/4 cup of boiling water 10 minutes. Heat the oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook 1 minute, then add the rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add steeped saffron and its liquid, stock, and salt and pepper. Bring to a rapid boil, then cover, reduce heat to its lowest setting, and cook 20 minutes or until rice is tender.