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Cibus Corner: Autumn Culinary Delights

After a summer hiatus, Chef Babs is back with a new installment of Cibus Corner just in time for fall entertaining. As the temperatures in Houston return to hospitable levels, fall is our favorite time for entertaining and cooking warm, inviting meals. To help put you in the mood, I've also included pictures from a rustic barn home in upstate New York featured recently in Martha Stewart Living. In addition to being a lovely example of rustic-meets-modern architecture and design, the rooms also feature wonderful fall touches that could be inexpensively replicated for your next fall get-together. And with that, I'll hand the keyboard over to Chef Babs!

Fall has always been my favorite season. I love this time of year. In Texas, at least, our best weather is often in the Autumn. I also love the culinary delights of the colder seasons. The hot apple pies, the roasts, stews, curries, soups and hot chocolate that people steer away from in the warmer seasons is finally brought back to the culinary forefront. The following is a sprinkling of some of my favorite recipes that are perfect for this time of year.

Chef Babs’s Turkey Meatball Subs

I normally do not spend much time making sandwiches at home. Unless it is tuna, I tend to stay away from making them myself. I am not sure why, but most sandwiches bore me. One night, however, desperate for a new recipe but not wanting to venture to the grocery store, I looked at the contents of my fridge and decided to try my hand at a meatball sub. It is the perfect meal to enjoy in the fall. It is also tasty and impressive enough to serve to guests who come over to watch the football game of the weekend. It would also be a hit later in the winter at a Super Bowl Party.

1.5 lbs Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage (casings removed)

1 egg

½ cup Italian Style Breadcrumbs

¼ c. Olive Oil plus more for drizzling

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Jar of your favorite marinara sauce

¼ c. Fresh Basil

4-6 Large Sub Rolls (I prefer Wheat)

4-6 Slices Provolone Cheese (1 per sub)

4-6 Slices Mozzarella Cheese (1 per sub)

Combine the Italian Sausage, egg, breadcrumbs, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Roll the meatballs in your hand into the desired size (I use about two tablespoons per meatball). Continue to make meatballs until you are out of the sausage mixture. Place the meatballs on a non-stick skillet over high heat on the stove top. Cook the meatballs until they are beginning to brown. Turn them so that they brown on all sides (about 7-9 minutes). Once the outsides have browned, pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs and turn the heat down to medium. Cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Turn on the broiler. Drizzle the subs with olive oil and place in the broiler for about 2-3 minutes, until the subs are lightly toasted. Once the meatballs have finished cooking, place them in the subs and place one slice of provolone and one slice of mozzarella on the top of each sub. Place one whole basil leaf in the middle of each sub. Place the subs back in the broiler until cheese is melty (about 1 minute). Serve with a salad and a cold beer or cider.

Grandma Christine’s Fresh Apple Cake

I love apples in the autumn. I eat one for lunch every day from September to December. They are the one food that I never tire of eating. Their hardiness and freshness also makes them a perfect fruit for baking. This cake recipe has been in my family for at least 50 years and is the perfect cake to finish a hearty meal, like stew, but is also great served for breakfast as coffee cake. My father’s mother used to make it every fall, and my Aunt and mother continued the tradition. Now I bake it at least two or three times between September and December. If you want to make it even more special, drizzle with caramel sauce and serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 ½ cup Wesson oil

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups apples, chopped and peeled

1 cup chopped nuts

3 cups sifted flour

1 tsp soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp All Spice

Sift and measure the flour. Then add the soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and cloves and resift. Cream the oil, sugar and eggs together. Add vanilla and beat in. Add the apples and nuts. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix well. Bake in greased, floured Bundt pan for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then at 325 degrees for 30-40 more minutes.

Shortcut: You can use canned apples (found in the baking section with the pie fillings) instead of fresh apples. Rinse them off before using and then chop them up.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cupcakes

I happen to be a big fan of pumpkin and cupcakes, but until last weekend, I had never before combined the two. A few weeks ago, I came across a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes in a new cookbook The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook that my friend gave me for my birthday and is rapidly becoming my new favorite cookbook. Everything that I have made in it is wonderful. The cupcakes are creative, tasty, and easy. The Hazelnut Cupcakes may be the best cupcakes that I have ever tasted (the recipe calls for a spoon of Nutella in the center). Even better, you do not need to be a skilled baker to master these recipes. My other favorite recipe, which is seasonal, is the recipe for pumpkin cream cheese cupcakes. What I like about these cupcakes is that people who do not generally care for pumpkin enjoyed them. Averill, for instance, will not eat pumpkin pie, but happily ate a couple of these delightful cupcakes! They will also make a nice addition to any Thanksgiving feast. Since I do not have permission to publish the recipe, to obtain it you will have to purchase the book. It retails on Amazon for $18.45. I cannot recommend this book enough. It is especially a great purchase for people with children from the ages of 4-11.

All photographs courtesy of Martha Stewart Living.

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