The Luxury of Sundays

October 23, 2012

This is the twentieth installment of Sunday Dinners, a biweekly column from our own Tom Hirschfeld featuring his gorgeous photography, stunning Indiana farm, and mouthwatering family meals.

Today: Tom pens an ode to fall and family, with a Sunday menu of Fennel and Onion Braised Pot Roast with Carrots, Roasted Broccoli with Almonds, Roasted Garlic, and Mustard Vinaigrette, and AntoniaJames' Sour Cream Dinner Rolls.

Shop the Story

In the afternoon you can often find me at the kitchen table, a cup of coffee or tea in hand, sitting there reveling in some sort of thought, a small break in the day just before the warm sun begins its descent into early evening.

Today, in the background of my daydreams, I hear the girls outside yelling at each other. They aren't fighting. More likely it is some discovery that has them beside themselves. A toad, maybe, or a praying mantis with his skin turned brown just like the leaves around him, from the cold of night that also makes his days slower.

The mudroom door slams and I hear giggles, followed by the hurried thud of boots being flung from feet to the floor. Lynnie and Viv are still fired up and rush over to tell me their story. My eyes look from one to the next as they speak over each other, their volume rising as they excitedly try to tell me about their discovery -- something about millions of stink bugs on a wrinkled old squash.

But I'm not really listening, because I just want to grab them both and give them a hug. I want the luxury of getting them in close because it makes me giddy to drink in the wonderful smell of the warm fall sun and damp leaves radiating from each them.

I shoo the girls back outside to show me their find and follow behind them with a basket. Life right now is a series of juxtapositions. It is warm days and cold nights, burning oak leaves and fresh cut grass. In the garden, there is a wake being held for the lean vegetables of summer all slumped over and dead from frost. The eulogy is given by the sturdy and vibrant plants of fall that thrive and taste better because of the morning freeze. I am here to cut broccoli.

Mostly, I deliberately waited to come outside because I wanted to come back in from the fresh afternoon air to pots bubbling gently on the stove: fennel, onions and fatty meat bathed in a rich red wine sauce, the smell freely spilling out for anyone who wants to collect it up and relish in the dinner yet to come.

Over by the fire, Amy sits quietly with her back to the gentle flames, a scarf wrapped around her shoulders and a book in her hands. She looks over at the three of us and smiles. I look over, smiling back at the most beautiful woman I have ever met, and set the basket of broccoli on the counter.

Sunday Menu:

Fennel and Onion Braised Pot Roast with Carrots
Serves 4
2 pounds rolled chuck roast, salted on all sides and left on a cooling rack set over a tray and uncovered in the fridge
1 1/2 cup fennel bulb, trimmed, core removed and julienned
1 /12 cup yellow onion, peeled, trimmed, and julienned
1 1/2 tablespoon rosemary, minced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
2 1/2 cups dry red wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Roasted Broccoli with Almonds, Roasted Garlic, and Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 4
6 cups broccoli stems, florets, and leaves
2 garlic heads, tops trimmed off
2 teaspoons Dusseldorf or Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/2 cup peeled and blanched whole almonds
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

AntoniaJames' Sour Cream Dinner Rolls
Makes 16 rolls
1/2 cup potato flakes or 2/3 cup mashed potato
3/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
3 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1 1/4 cup bread flour
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup barley flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
Butter for greasing the pan
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Waverly
  • DianneD
  • nannydeb
  • lastnightsdinner
  • thirschfeld
Father, husband, writer, photojournalist and not always in that order.


Waverly October 23, 2012
Lovely post today. A whole branch of my family is from Indiana. I have fond memories of it.
thirschfeld October 23, 2012
Thank you Waverly and it is always nice to hear someone say they have fond memories of the Hoosier state.
DianneD October 23, 2012
Beautiful recipes for a fall dinner for which I was seeking inspiration. Please keep this column active forever.
thirschfeld October 23, 2012
thanks DianneD for the kind words
nannydeb October 23, 2012
Beautiful article! Thanks for giving us a taste of Fall- It's going to be in the low 90s in Austin today...
thirschfeld October 23, 2012
nannydeb, I remember being in Austin and it was pushing 90 in December only to have it snow a week later, but I can say this I do love Austin, and Texas in general no matter the weather.
lastnightsdinner October 23, 2012
Next time we're in Indiana, we're totally crashing your Sunday dinner.
thirschfeld October 23, 2012
we would love to have you