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My favorite cooking is doing it from scratch. Beyond this, cooking and getting creative based simply on what’s in the house…that…that is awesome fun. Looking in my pantry, I saw some nice cans of Spanish tuna, a jar of (it turned out) rubbery, tasteless red bell peppers, a small wedge of fontina val d’osta cheese, an avocado (why was it in the refrigerator?), a small baguette, and a couple of very handsome heirloom tomatoes grown locally.

I started out with the tomatoes, slicing them latitudinally and put them in the skillet in olive oil cut-side down for several minutes to allow them to caramelize a bit. Then, flipping them over, I drizzled the juices over them, added a spritz of kosher salt and a sprinkling of thyme and let them bake in the oven for 30 minutes or so. Whenever possible, I tend to pick out heirlooms simply because…well, they don’t taste like wet cardboard that some commercial varieties end up.

Taking a closer look, you can see that one is green, the other red, and after 30 minutes or so in the heat they got deliciously juicy and caramelized to a tee. The green one actually tasted better than the red, not sure why.

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For a ‘main’, I found an interesting recipe for Mousse di Tonno (lemon-and-oregano-seasoned tuna mousse) which simply involved the tuna, a pat of butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, and a clove of garlic–oh, and a food processor. Assemble, blend. Done. Simple and tasty on the baguette (see topmost picture of the stuff that looks like mayonnaise).

With the avocado, I simply sliced it, took a tablespoon of creme fraiche, a little olive oil and a bit of water, mixed with a fork, and poured ‘artfully’ over the sliced avocado. Simple, tasty.

The only loser in the bunch were the jarred red peppers, garnished with thin slices of fontina cheese. The peppers tasted rubbery with an odd plasticy flavor which was not appealing. Perhaps better if cooked next time with a bit of garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Anything!

As I had some of the Italian fontina left, I cut a few small pieces to share with my wife, but she was not greatly impressed with it. Ah, well–she has her preferences. All in all, with a few pieces of sliced baguette, a glass of wine or two, we had a simple dinner that was quite satisfying. Best of all, I got to play and see what I could do. The avocado dish was all mine, simple as it was, but the other recipes were inspired from Patricia Wells’ Trattoria cookbook, highly recommended for its many simple but satisfying Italian small family restaurant recipes.

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