Marcona almonds take the place of bread in this rarebit mix, and Abondance stands in for cheddar. I fell for this mountain cheese from the French Haute-Savoie years ago, so it is great to see it travelling further afield and widely available in many supermarkets. Made from unpasteurised cow’s milk, it has the same pleasingly supple texture of other mountain cheeses of that ilk, such as Beaufort. It melts beautifully and is both more understated and elegant than gruyère, with a gentle fragrance that hints at fruit and flowers, and hazelnuts.
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C/gas mark 7. Arrange the peppers in a roasting pan, drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the oil, season and toss to coat, then turn, cupped-side up, and scatter over the thyme or marjoram. Roast for 20 minutes, then fill with the tomatoes, drizzle over the remaining oil, season with a little salt and roast for a further 20 minutes.
In the meantime, whizz the almonds to a coarse powder in a food processor. Now add the cheese, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and gin and continue to whizz to a paste. This can also be made well in advance, then covered and chilled.
Dot the rarebit mixture over the peppers (a little over a heaped teaspoon for each one) and return to the oven for 10–15 minutes until golden. Serve straight away.