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.
Orange Madeleines with Coriander Syrup
Madeleines adapted from the About.com recipe.
Method for Madeleines
- 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
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.