Last-minute holiday party appetizers with Dean and The Chopping Block

Dean Richards was around town at The Chopping Block, located at 4747 N. Lincoln Ave., to cook some last-minute holiday party appetizers. Chef and owner Shelley Young demonstrated easy updated recipes for classic savory  dishes and Dean even made some dips of his own!

Yia-Yia’s Pimento Dip

One 8-ounce package cream cheese.
Full to 3/4 10 oz. jar of Spanish Olives with Pimento, diced small.
1/4 cup (or to taste) walnut or pecan chips.

1. Mix.
2. If dip is too thick for your liking,  add some of the olive juice.
3. Form into a ball. Sprinkle with more chopped nuts.
4. Serve with Ritz Crackers and/or veggies.

Gruyere Cheese Fondue

4 cups (1 pound) Gruyere cheese, grated

2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup apple cider
1 to 2 teaspoons kirsch
Pepper and nutmeg to taste
French bread cubes
Apple slices

Yield: 4-6 servings as an appetizer Active time: 25 minutes
Start to finish: 25 minutes

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the cheese and cornstarch.
  2. Bring the wine and cider to a simmer in a large pot. Keeping the heat low, gradually stir in thecheese until melted. Add the kirsch, and season to taste with pepper and nutmeg.
  3. Transfer to a fondue pot and serve with bread cubes and apple slices.

Potato and Celery Root Gratin with Gruyere Cheese

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 roasted garlic cloves, minced (see note, below)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, rough chopped
2 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 large or 2 small celery root, peeled and cut into thin slices
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups Gruyere cheese, grated

Yield: 6-8 servings
Active time: 35 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour, 30 minutes

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
  2. Heat together the cream, roasted garlic and thyme in a saucepan until steaming. Set aside whilepreparing the vegetables.
  3. Lightly butter a baking or pie dish. Place a layer of sliced potatoes on the bottom of the dish in a concentric circle. Season with salt and pepper to taste, ladle about 1/4 cup of the infused garlic cream on top, and top with a sprinkling of Gruyere cheese.
  4. Arrange the next layer using celery root, and continue in this fashion, alternating potatoes and celery root, until the baking dish is full.
  5. Top the gratin with Gruyere cheese and cover with foil. Bake on the prepared sheet tray for 40 minutes.
  6. Uncover the baking dish, and continue to cook until the potatoes and celery root are knife- tender and the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
  7. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, cut into slices and serve.

Notes:

  •  These can be made individually in ramekins, which will take half the time to bake.
  • To roast garlic, slice the top off a whole head of garlic to expose the cloves. Place it in a small oven-proof dish, drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes, until the cloves are soft and a light golden color.

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Crumbled Blue Cheese and Red Wine Reduction

One 2-to 2 1/2 -pound beef tenderloin, trimmed of any excess fat and silver skin
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
Your favorite salt blend and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons cold butter, diced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, rough chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled

Yield: 4-5 servings
Active time: 30 minutes Start to finish: 50 minutes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Season the beef with the salt blend and pepper to taste.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, and add the grapeseed oil. Sear the beef on all sides until well caramelized. Transfer the beef to a roasting rack set in a roasting pan.
  4. Roast the beef until it reaches 125° on a meat thermometer. This is ideal for medium-rare.
  5. While the beef roasts, prepare the red wine reduction.
  6. In the same pan the beef was seared in, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots, and gently sauté until lightly caramelized around the edges, about 1 minute.
  1. Deglaze the pan with red wine, scraping free any bits of fond from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the wine has reduced to about 1/4 cup.
  2. Whisk in the beef stock, mustard, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer until reduced by half of its original volume.
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