Clarified butter is milk fat rendered from butter to separate the milk solids and water from the butterfat. Typically, it is produced by melting butter and allowing the components to separate by density. The water evaporates, some solids float to the surface and are skimmed off, and the remainder of the milk solids sink to the bottom and are left behind when the butter fat (which would then be on top) is poured off.
Confit (French, pronounced “con-fee”) comes from the French word confire which means literally “preserved”; a confit being any type of food that is cooked slowly over a long period of time as a method of preservation.
Confit as a cooking term describes when food is cooked in grease, oil or sugar water (syrup), at a lower temperature than deep frying. While deep frying typically takes place at temperatures of 325–450 °F (163–232 °C), confit preparations are done much lower—an oil temperature of around 200 °F (93 °C), sometimes even cooler. The term is usually used in modern cuisine to mean long slow cooking in oil or fat at low temperatures, many having no element of preservation such as dishes like confit potatoes.
In meat cooking this requires the meat to be salted as part of the preservation process. After salting and cooking in the fat, sealed and stored in a cool, dark place, confit can last for several months or years. Confit is one of the oldest ways to preserve food, and is a specialty of southwestern France.
Chiffonade is a chopping technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips. This is accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then slicing the leaves perpendicular to the roll. The technique can also be applied to crepes or thin omelets to produce strips.
This technique is unsuited to small, narrow, or irregularly shaped herb leaves such as coriander, parsley, thyme or rosemary due to there being less surface area for the knife to do a practical job.
Chiffonade means little ribbons in French, referring to the little ribbons you create while cutting.
Zataar (ou Za'tar)
Za’atar is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs (oregano, basil thyme, and savory). It is the name for a condiment made from the dried herb(s), mixed with sesame seeds, dried sumac, and often salt, as well as other spices. The spice mixture is popular throughout the Middle East.
Zataar is a spice mix you can buy in Middle Eastern shops or specialty spice shops. Just as tasty, however, is the following simple mix you can do yourself: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, and the zest of one lemon.
Laura Calder’s recipe for Spinach Wheel with Zataar.