In “One Good Meal,” we ask cooking-inclined creative people to share the story behind a favorite dish they actually make and eat at home on a regular basis — and not just when they’re trying to impress.
Flowers grow seasonally, of course, just like food, which presents a problem in February. “Valentine’s Day falls on the worst time of year,” says Christina Stembel, founder of San Francisco’s Farmgirl Flowers. “Everybody in the industry is always like: Who came up with this?”
To avoid selling out-of-season peonies that don’t even open, Stembel has made some adjustments: For this year’s Valentine’s bouquets, she’s experimenting with pale pink Hanoi ranunculus, cheerful red Hypericum berries, psychedelic anthurium and dyed dried bunny tail for something that’s loose and wild. All of which suits the Farmgirl look, anyway. The nine-year-old company, which Stembel started with less than $50,000, has become a $23-million business by reimagining the floral aesthetic as, she says, “something you would never find at a grocery store — ever.”
In the beginning, before her company had too many employees for one woman to feed, Stembel would bring in cinnamon rolls for the staff. “I bake in the middle of the night when I’m too stressed to sleep,” she says. “It’s the only thing I can do that will get my mind off of work.”
Her recipe lightly modifies the one her mom used to make back when the florist was growing up on her family farm in Indiana. Stembel, now 41, remembers eating these rolls before church on Sunday mornings, or as a grab-and-go meal when everyone was outside working. “They are the ultimate comfort food, where you just feel like someone’s hugging you,” she says. “They are soft on the inside but crispy on top, and ooey and gooey in the middle. If you meet someone that doesn’t like one of these, do not trust them.”
Christina’s Mom’s Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough:
For the filling:
For the glaze:
1) In a small bowl, dissolve dry yeast in warm water and set aside. With a stand mixer (using dough hook), mix milk, sugar, butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add the yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough pulls away from the edge of the bowl and is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 minutes. Place in a well-greased bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for an hour or two until doubled in size.
2) Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Roll the dough out on a floured surface into an even rectangle. Spread softened butter on dough. Mix both sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle over buttered dough. Starting at the bottom (on the long side of the rectangle), roll dough and pinch ends together to seal. Slice the roll into 2-inch pieces with a serrated knife.
3) Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Place the rolls close together in the pan and place in refrigerator overnight. (If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the fridge: Cover and allow to rise again for another hour until they double in size.)
4) Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake rolls for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned. While the rolls are baking, make the glaze by creaming the butter and cheese with a mixer until smooth. Whip in powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired glaze consistency. Drizzle the glaze over rolls while they’re still warm to make them extra gooey.