Beef Tenderloin Canapés, and holiday survival tips

Beef Tenderloin Canapés

Like it or not, the holidays are upon us.

Ironically it’s this time of the year when I most appreciate fluffy slippers and recliners but find myself, instead, standing for hours on end in heels. The cocktail party is the culprit.

But I love them anyway. I’m brain dead in November and December so I appreciate the lack of conversational depth at these types of get-togethers. I also love noshing on finger foods, sipping wine and shooting the breeze with folks I haven’t seen for a while.

When hosting parties of this nature, I’ve honed my survival skills developed through the years on the line of fire. First, I delegate. I’ve spent years thinking I had to cook everything, especially since I was “in the business”. But those days are over.

These days if a guest inquires: “Can I bring something?”, and I know they can wield a chef knife, I reply: “Wonderful! We could use….”. But be cautious.

If it’s a relative or friend who lives on microwave meals, the appetizer may be corn doodles. If that’s the case I reply: “No-thanks. But if you could come over an hour before the party to assemble appetizers it would be a huge help!”

Then there are the recipes. Fortunately, two of the most popular appetizers I’ve made happen to be the easiest: Marinated Shrimp and these Beef Tenderloin Canapés. (For tips on purchasing beef tenderloin, read my Cranberry-Zinfandel Fillet Mignon blog.) Unfortunately, they are both pricey, but if time is money and beef or shrimp are on sale, they are worth it. I always select the best tenderloin I can find for these canapés; I find the lower grades of beef tenderloin are not as tender and flavorful.

There is no shame in buying frozen appetizers or ready-mades from a favorite deli.
I love Trader Joe’s frozen Spinach and Feta Phyllo appetizers. And many delis have freshly made spreads that are delicious on apple or baguette slices. If you need a salad or reheatable for a pot-luck, Arbor Farm’s has delicious, hand-crafted ready-to-gos. The ultimate would be a side of smoked salmon from Zingerman’sMonahan’s or Whole Foods.

I digress–back to tonight’s Beef Tenderloin Canapes. To slice the beef into neat, thin pieces, I put the cooked tenderloin in the freezer for an hour or two to chill. You’ll get more pieces of meat if you do this. I used an old stand-by, Horseradish Mayonnaise, to spread on the canapés. Another option would be roasted red peppers pureéd then added to the mayonnaise or crumbled gorgonzola added to mayonnaise.

Capers, sliced grape tomatoes, green onions and thinly sliced red onions are appropriate accompaniments. To save time, place the sliced tenderloin next to the baguette slices and let your guests construct their own canapés.

Recipe: Beef Tenderloin Canapés


  • 1, 3 pound piece, beef tenderloin (I use the prime cut)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 2-4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 3 baguettes, sliced*


  1. Allow beef* to stand at room temperature one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Rub tenderloin with cut side of garlic and coat evenly with 1 tablespoon of the rosemary. Generously season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  (A whole beef tenderloin has a thin, tapered end. Tuck this end under itself and then tie the entire tenderloin up so the thickness is the same all around.)
  4. Roast on a rack over a shallow roasting pan. After placing in oven, reduce heat to 350 degrees. Cook 35-45 minutes or until beef registers an internal temperature of 120-130 degrees for rare when pierced in the center of the meat, 140 degrees for medium. (Oven temperatures vary. For my 3-inch thick tenderloin, the roasting time was apx. 43 minutes. It was rare but not “mooing”.)
  5. Let the tenderloin rest at least 15 minutes or refrigerate, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, up to 24 hours. If time allows, place cooked beef in the freezer 1-2 hours, for easier slicing.
  6. Combine the mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of the horseradish and the remaining teaspoon of rosemary. Add additional horseradish to taste.
  7. Thinly slice the beef. Make canapés or serve with the sauce and baguette slices** on the side.

**To save time, have your deli slice the baguettes in advance and keep them in a plastic bag. Make sure the baguettes are baked and sliced the day you intend to use them.

Time to rest beef (optional): 1 hour

Time to partially freeze beef (optional): 1-2 hours

Active time: 10 minutes

Roast time: apx. 35 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 10-14

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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