After a recent trip to Las Vegas, there are two things deputy Food editor Betty Hallock still talks about: the white tigers at the Mirage and this beautifully layered sardine appetizer from L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. "The fresh sardines were plump and juicy, and the concentrated tomato flavor of the concasse was rich and unctuous, offset by the vegetable crunch of slivers of cauliflower," she says. "I especially love the thin slice of butter on top -- amazing!"
Sardines on toast
Total time: About 1 hour
Note: Adapted from L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Fresh sardines are widely available at Japanese and Korean markets; alternatively, check with your local fishmonger as they may need to be ordered.
6 large plum tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons tomato paste
4 large basil leaves
1. Cut a small "x" through the skin at the base of each tomato, no more than 1 inch in diameter.
2. Blanch the tomatoes for 20 seconds in boiling water, then place in a bowl of ice water to cool off quickly. Peel and seed the tomatoes, then dice them into pieces no larger than one-eighth inch in size.
3. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring frequently until aromatic and the onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, basil, and one-fourth teaspoon salt and a large pinch of pepper, or to taste. Cook 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until all of the moisture from the tomatoes has evaporated. Discard the basil leaves and set aside. This makes about one-half cup.