Sunday, July 8, 2007

Gone to Seed - Coriander Madeleines

De gustibus non est disputandum. (In matters of taste, there is no dispute.) The facts are plain: there are cilantro lovers and cilantro haters. The lovers (I count myself among them) are drawn to steaming, fragrant bowls of pho and scoopfuls of crushed green chutney, while the haters are picking out every last bit of chopped leaf from the pico de gallo and cursing its accidental purchase, mistaking it for its look-alike cousin, parsley. To put it mildly, neither camp “gets” the other, with the haters’ bloodlust for the aromatic plant taking sometimes mammoth, almost frightening proportions. It appears as though never the twain shall meet.

Or can it? Is it possible that a cilantro hater can become a cilantro lover? In a manner of speaking, yes. There can be a modicum of reconciliation; all it takes is a little patience and a sweet tooth. Cilantro does not have to die to cease and desist producing its lurid leaves. The plant, officially and botanically known as coriander, regardless of any of its entirely edible parts, has a very short cycle; in a matter of weeks “that stinking weed” will go to seed, morphing into a tender, tall plant with leaves as fine as pine needles and slim stems balancing petite white blossoms, very much like Queen Anne’s Lace. It is not even a shadow of its younger self, but an entirely new plant, unrecognizable from its former days of fetid offense. It is a romantic cloud bearing fruit, its seeds, not only to ensure a new crop next year, but to enchant many an Eastern, Indian and Middle-Eastern cook with one of the foundational flavors and fragrances of classic curries, sauces and spice mixtures. Despite one’s possible revulsion to the early leaf, it is quite likely that a cilantro hater has enjoyed coriander seed without even knowing it.

These can be fighting words, I know. A peacekeeper is sometimes put in a position of great risk and winds up more beaten in the fray than the opponents themselves. The dispute will probably remain intact; all I can do is blur the line in the sand with a warm, sweet, perfumed syrup, then quickly back away behind the dunes.

Coriander Seed

Orange Madeleines with Coriander Syrup

Madeleines adapted from the recipe.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 4 Tablespoons soft butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
Method for Madeleines

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease 20 (or 24, depending on the size) madeleine tins. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until pale in color. Stir in the orange flower water, orange extract, orange peel and butter. Sift in the flour and gently fold in.

Fill each mold to 3/4 with batter. Bake for 15 minutes or until the madeleines are lightly browned and risen. Remove from pans and allow to cool slightly. Pour coriander syrup lightly over madeleines. Allow to fully cool before serving.

Coriander Syrup - (My own recipe)


1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons ground coriander seeds (freshly ground is best)
(Coriander seeds can be found either whole or ground in the spice section of your grocer.)


Boil all ingredients then remove from heat. Allow to steep as it cools for 15 minutes. Strain seeds from syrup, discarding them.

Makes approximately 20 cakes. --

This post is being submitted to Chris of Mele Cotte, hosting this week's edition of Weekend Herb Blogging for Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen, the creator of this event and the original cilantro lover.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh Susan you are so right. It brings out the sweetness so amazingly! Love these Madeleines - beautiful!

Lucy said...

Gorgeous. And most amusing.

That coriander-hating site is hilarious. Madness...

Your syrup sounds perfect. Orange and coriander seeds are an excellent flavour match. Non-baker that I am, I reckon I could make these!

Kalyn said...

We must explore some future uses for your negotiating talents. The world could use a lot more compromise. Of course, I'm always going to be in the cilantro-loving camp! What a lovely close-up photo of the madeleines. Just delicious looking.

Johanna said...

your madelaines look perfect - I am not a huge fan of either madelaines or coriander but the combination interests me - would love to taste one!

Cynthia said...

You are a temptress with these flavours that you are provoking us with - coriander and orange. I am getting dizzy with the pleasure of it all. Looks at those gorgeous pics.

sra said...

How original! The close-up is lovely!

Foodie Froggy said...

Wow, your madeleines look gorgeous. And the use of coriander is a great idea.

librariane said...

Fabulous idea--we have cilantro/coriander coming out our ears, and I love having excuses to pull out my madeleine pan.

Pelicano said...

Susan, inventive recipe; coriander seed definitely has orange-like notes, so I am quite sure that this serves as excellent artillery against the hate-mongers- hilarious website that was!

At one time I didn't care for the flavour of the leaf whatsoever; I'd leave it out of Indian recipes...then, pico de gallo came along. I don't know when it happened, but now I prepare and eat hari chutney by the moundful...

Lydia said...

I am a cilantro hater who lets my plants go to seed deliberately -- I really do like dried ground coriander, but cannot tolerate the fresh plant. So,yes, it's a compromise, but my husband the cilantro lover gets to pick fresh leaves off the plant before I let it go!

Christina said...

What an ingenious idea! That coriander syrup sounds like a lovely twist on a traditional classic.

Nora B. said...

How very creative of you - coriander syrup. This will be a "must try" recipe for me when I get some free time to bake again, plus I need to get a new madeleine moulds. I've been really busy with work, I can only indulge in other bloggers' photos & stories. ;-)

Nora B. said...

p/s: Susan, I tagged you for a meme (more details on my blog). It would be nice to know a bit more about you. I realise that we write food blogs, so don't feel obliged to participate if you don't feel like it.

Anonymous said...

I myself used to look upon cilantro with disgust, it's tiny pieces of green in my salsa tasting of green soap and non- edible horridness. After reading "The Man Who Ate Everything" by Jeffrey Steingarten, I tried the same thing he did. I began eating cilantro in well-prepared foods, despite my loathing of it. I grew to not only tolerate it, but now I fully embrace it. Can I get get a cheer for cilantro chutney? I am currently growing about twelve plants of cilantro in my backyard. Steingarten's food writing is superb, check out his two books.

Nanditha Prabhu said...

I wish I had a bite of that....looks yummy!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Susan, this is such a different and interesting recipe! You are an artist, so talented!

I'm not a huge fan of cilantro but I think these madeleines could convert me. :)

Mishmash ! said...

Susan,Madeleines sound quite yummy ...i have never tasted coriander syrup the way you have made, though coriander is something so part of our indian kitchens :) Btw, I have some coriander plants in my window has small leaves and blossoms too...leaf smells quite fresh and aromatic...the thing is they dont stand that how it is supposed to be?


Simona said...

Those madeleines look amazing! As usual, your story is a pleasure to read. Sui gusti non si discute is how we say it in Italy. My husband claims that cilantro tastes like aluminum to him, so that's the end of the battle in our house.

Susan said...

Thanks, Tanna. It’s hard to get sweeter than syrup.
Lucy – Thanks. I’m sure you can bake these; madeleines look complicated because they are so pretty, but it’s like filling muffin tins.
Thank you, Kalyn. We cilantro lovers have to stick together!
Worth a taste, Johanna, even if not your cup of tea. Thanks for the kind words.
Hey, Cynthia! And they taste better than they look. : P Thanks!
Thanks, Sra. That’s my favorite shot, too.
Merci, Anne. My cupboards full of spices need to be put to constant use rather than have them go stale.
Librariane – You will have tons of seeds! If you haven’t harvested them before, you need to wait until the seeds dry, brown and start to fall off the plant before you pick them.
Thanks, Pel. You are right; coriander does exponentially boost the orange flavors. That hari chutney looks like what I get at my favorite Indian vegetarian buffet. Love the stuff! Thanks for the recipe.
Lydia – Now there is a good in-house relationship! Everybody’s happy.
Thanks, Christina. Syrup-soaked cakes are to swoon for.
Thank you, Nora. Of all my kitchen equipment, I am forever charmed by the madeleine pans. And thanks for tagging me. I left a comment on your blog. : )
Hi, Anonymous. Thanks for the recommendations of Steingarten’s books. I’ll have to check them out now. Thanks for visiting and commenting.
Hi, Nanditha. I’d love to share with you. Thanks!
Thanks, Patricia, for your kind words. The seeds used for this recipe aren’t even remotely like the leaves of the same plant. I guarantee you would be pleased and not hate me for it. : )
Shn – Oh, I know and love coriander in Indian cuisine. The plants should not be sprawling, but loose, wiry and airy. My guess is that the window box soil is not substantial enough to support it upright. You can tie the stems with soft twine or yarn to bamboo or wooden garden stakes, or wooden rulers or spoons planted parallel in the soil.
Thank you, Simona. That’s very sweet of you. What a beautiful Italian expression!

Jyothsna said...

Aww, thats a lovely recipe! I'm coriander crazy and it's a joke in my family that I garnish everything with coriander!! I've tried growing coriander rather unsuccessfully, any tips on that?

Rosa said...

Madeleines with spice syrup, what a beautiful idea!

Just the thought of cilantro makes me want to nibble on a few leaves... Mmm.

sunita said...

Its my first time here and I'm absolutely loving it...the pictures are enough to lure me back :)...I use quite a lot of coriander, both the fresh leaves as well as the powdered've used them in a really novel way:)) said...

Wow!What an unusual combo for Madeleines! thanks for the inspiration!

Shaun said...

Susan, lovie - These are so dreamy and would be perfect with my non-Proustian tisane that consists of fennel fronts and caraway seeds, such spicy goodness. I love the delicately crispy scalloped edges and the orangey sun-kissed glow of your madeleines. I suppose I don't have to dream about what these taste like but to purchase a madeleine sheet. Divine!

Suganya said...

I take coriander for granted that it never occurred to me to use in an exotic way like this. Way to go Susan!

ricki said...

Your madelines always rock! I might hae to invest in a pan to try this. Or you could just make them at xmas! haha

Susan said...

Thanks, Jyothsna. I agree with you - you can never get enough coriander. I've emailed you w/ some questions about your garden to better offer tips on growing this herb. If you prefer, please have a look at my detailed comment in Sandeepa's (Bong Mom's CookBook) Father's Day post. Sandeepa is having some problems, too.
Hi, Rosa. Glad you like the idea. Thanks! Madeleines are such a simple little recipe, so easy to experiment with.
Hello, Sunita. Welcome! I'm so glad you've enjoyed your visit. Do hope to see you again. Thanks for your kind words.
Welcome, Tamami. I was thinking savarin, when this easier idea hit me. I have a feeling you are going to try this. For me, the secret is not using a recipe that is too, too butter rich; it makes the texture leaden. Thanks for visiting!
Thanks, dear Shaun. I think Proust would forgive you for not using linden. Your tisane sounds like aromatherapy to me.
Suganya - It seems the smallest tweaks provoke the biggest wows. Thanks!

Susan said...

Thanks, Ricki! Special Xmas requested noted. : )

Mishmash ! said...

Susan, thanks for that guidance...i think it must be the soil....i have some twigs...will support them with those....thanks again :)


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This sounds delicious and succulent, if a cookie ever could!

lynn said...

Mmm, I love cilantro and I love coriander and I just got a new madeleine pan. Happy day! Thanks for the recipe.

Susan said...

Hi, Shn. Happy to help.
Thanks, Jenn. You know, succulent is a perfect adjective for these.
Welcome, Lynn! A new madeleine pan?
I'm excited for you. Hope you enjoy the recipe. Thanks for visiting.

toni said...

First time visiting your blog. I'm in the "love cilantro" camp, and my sister is in the "hate it" camp. Apparently, there is a chemical in cilantro that some people cannot tolerate.

As for your madeleines, they look absolutely gorgeous! What a great combo - orange and coriander syrup. Yummmm......

Abby said...

Those are absolutely gorgeous! The color is perfect. I have to get a madeleine pan and join in the fun!

Susan said...

Thanks, Abby. A madeleine pan will last you for years, and is not much pricier than a good metal muffin tin. There are so many variations, one as easy as the next, that you will always have too many tempting treats around.

librariane said...

I just wanted to report that I made these (slight variation, as I didn't have orange flower water or extract--I used orange oil, which I did have on hand) and they were yummy! A friend who doesn't normally like fruity cake/cookies even said they were tasty. :)

Susan said...

Hi, Ruhama. I'm so glad you tried them. I'm sure the orange oil was a tasty substitute. Given you like rose water so much (me, too!) you could also do vanilla madeleines soaked in rose syrup. Thanks for letting me know you liked them.

TBC said...

Hi Susan, It's my first time here. You have a great blog!
Your madeleines look so perfect. I am not a huge fan of coriander but this combination intrigues me.
I just can't take my eyes off those madeleines!

Susan said...

Thank you, TBC! Good to see you here. Welcome! There are all sorts of variations on madeleines that you can have your little cakes and eat them, too.

Kate said...

Well these are just lovely, and how unique they sound. I'm definately in the "lover of cilantro" camp, but I never considered it as anything other than a savory. I do so love a madeleine ... Hmmm!

Jeanne said...

You had me at "coriander syrup". I am going straight out and buying me a madeleine pan!!

Susan said...

Thank you, Kate! Cilantro and coriander are so different, it's hard to believe they are from the same plant.
Hi, Jeanne. Thanks! Oh, it doesn't hurt to add just one more baking tin to your arsenal. ; )

Eftychia said...

Nice recipe. Thank you for sharing!