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I made this the other night as a recipe I did for the swap I am in this month, the end result was this very rich, hearty beef casserole, it was excellent. I made as is except instead of adding cornflour to thicken I added about 5 tablespoons of bisto beef gravy granules for an even more beefy flavour. If you want to see more photos or read more reviews click here.

If you have been keeping up with the progress of my beautiful handcrafted camphor laurel chopping, cheese boards. platter boards and mezzaluna boards. My official site is finally finished and live so to see my full collection please click here.

Ingredients

5lbs Prime beef, cubed & trimmed of fat
1lb Shallot, peeled
4-6 Garlic cloves, peeled & chopped finely
1 Bunch fresh thyme
2-4 Bay leaves
750ml Burgundy wine
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1lb Lardons, Smoked Bacon pieces
1/2 Ounce dried cepes, soaked for 1 hr (I just used a bunch of wild mushrooms as they are in season at the moment.
6-8 Pieces dried orange peel, see method
1 Tablespoon soft brown sugar
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1-2 Tablespoon cornflour, for thickening (I used bisto beef gravy granules for an even more beefy flavour.)
2 Tablespoons cognac
2-4 Sun-dried tomatoes, drained & chopped finely (optional)
1 (8 ounce) Can chopped tomatoes (optional)
I added both of the last 2 ingredients.

Method

1. Marinade the beef with the herbs, shallots & garlic over night in the bottle of red wine.

2. Drain and put the wine to one side.

3. In a large skillet or fryng pan, sear & brown the beef pieces over a high heat in the olive oil until nutty & brown. Do not overcrowd the pan!

4. Place browned beef into the crock pot or cast iron Le Creuset Casserole Dish.

5. Fry the lardons or chopped bacon pieces until crispy & golden brown. Drain & add to the beef.

6. Brown the shallots & garlic in the bacon fat & add to the beef & bacon.

7. Add all the other ingredients, except the cornflour, to the crock pot including the reserved wine.

8. (Add the tinned tomatoes & sun dried tomatoes at this stage too if you are using them.).

9. Cook on automatic or High for 4 hours and Low for up to 6 hours.

10. (For conventional cooking – pre-heat oven to 175 degs C or 325 degs F or gas mark 3 and cook SLOWLY for approximately 4 to 6 hours; check towards the end, the meat should be extemely tender – you MUST not be tempted to cook it quicker, it will be tough!).

11. Towards the end, blend & mix the cornflour with a couple of spoons of the stock in the crock pot & add to the beef, stirring well. It should not be TOO thick but just like a glaze or thickened jus. Add the cognac at this stage as well – stirring into the daube.

Serve with Green Beans, Mashed, Steamed or Pureed Potatoes during the colder months OR with a selection of salads, crusty French bread & Pasta during the warmer months. The excess sauce can be used or saved as a fantastic gravy or stock later!

THIS IS BETTER MADE 24 HOURS BEFORE EATING!

Freezes beautifully – I always make a large batch and then freeze some.

NOTE:If you cannot buy sun dried orange peel, make your own, it’s VERY easy! Peel some oranges with a swivel head vegetable peeler or parer, be careful not to peel the pith. Spread outside on a rack in the full sun and leave to dry for about 2-4 hours. Weather permitting of course – otherwise dry in an airing cupboard or a very LOW oven overnight.Store in an airtight jar for up to 2 years.

If you are really stuck – just grate some fresh orange peel into the daube, it will not have the same intensity as dried peel, but it will work!

All photos taken by me unless otherwise stated.

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Here is another competition entry, this one comes from Vanessa in Canada. I have to say this cheesecake was super rich, very fattening and naughty, but oh so delicious.I had a little trouble with this one, nothing major, my toffee did not work so you will see from the decoration I could not use it. Also the caramel worked very well, but I found that it really didn’t swirl through the cheesecake. As I said very minor things that did not affect the flavour.We all thoroughly enjoyed it, although we will be doing some exercise today to burn off those extra calories. I will be posting the winner within the first week of February just in case I get any last minute entries. I will be able to make those recipes over the first few days of February, good luck and thanks for entering.

Crust

4 Tablespoons melted butter

1 1/2 Cup digestive biscuit crumbs

Caramel

1 Cup sugar

1/4 Cup water

1/2 Cup whipping cream

Crunchy Toffee Pieces

1 Cup sugar

200g Butter

Cheesecake

4 Packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

1 Cup packed brown sugar

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1/4 Teaspoon salt

4 Large eggs, at room temperature

Method

For the crust

1. Combine butter and crumbs, mixing well with a fork.

2. Press into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.

For the caramel

1. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir well. Cover with a lid and cook until sugar turns a medium amber color, about 3 1/2 minutes after
mixture comes to a boil.

2. Remove from heat and stir 30 seconds. Slowly stir in cream, being careful to avoid
spatters. Set aside.


For the crunchy toffee

1. Combine the sugar and butter in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Stir to combine and let it come to the boil for approx. 15-20.

2.Pull of heat and let it stand for another 5 Min’s to cool slightly. Pour into
a flat dish and put it I the freezer to harden.

3. When hard break into pieces with a mallet. Set aside for final decoration of the cooled cheesecake.

For the cheesecake

1. Beat cream cheese and both sugars at medium speed of an electric mixer until soft and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt. Add eggs one at a time, beating on lowest
speed of mixer just until incorporated.

2. Pour two-thirds of batter over crust. Beat caramel mixture into remaining batter. Pour caramel batter over plain batter in pan and swirl mixtures with a rubber spatula.

3. Bake at 175 C. (I did this at 180c.) for about 50 minutes, or until edges are firm but middle still wiggles. Remove from oven and cool. Chill. Decorate with crunchy toffee pieces just before serving.

All photo’s taken by me unless otherwise stated.

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