Stuffed Bell Peppers and the Pearl Market

Bambi and I went to the Pearl Market, also known as Hongqiao, to price out some gifts to bring home. We picked up some T-shirts, garnering a lecture from the vendor, who didn’t like any American president because they all decided to give money to rich white people instead of poor Chinese people. She informed me, as we were bargaining, that I looked like an American but “my boyfriend” didn’t, he was far too skinny and he looked French, and he might be cute if he hit the weights and added some muscle. Amazing. Bambi got called out for being a squid by a tiny Chinese girl. Beautiful. As always, it was an adventure walking around a densely populated market with him, as he shouted HELLLO and other responses right back at the pushy vendors telling us to buy shirts. Responses varied from amused “HI!” to concerned “ARE YOU OK?” and my favorite, “YOU ARE SO MEAN!”

We went near closing time, and didn’t end up purchasing any pearls, but at least now I have an idea of what to expect and prices.

I went to Spin Ceramics, in Lido, for Christmas presents for my parents and other family members. And, because I spent over a certain amount, they threw in “a little gift for me” but seeing as they had piles and piles of the same green-ribboned box, I assume one of their artists churned out something plain and cheap and probably not very likely to sell. Still, nice.

We went to dinner at Sultan’s in Dongzhimen after perusing cute stores, with the team. There was a bit of a snafu with our reservations, but space was eventually made for us in a sketchy random basement outside the actual restaurant. The food was meh but company was fun, and there was a lunar eclipse. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one before, and neeither had my cab driver on the way home–I thought we might get into an accident, as he kept popping his head out the window every few minutes to look at it while driving.

Sunday Sawyer came back from a conference in Thailand and I made stuffed green peppers. I really wanted to make stuffed squash, as I used to do this with halved delicata squash at home, but couldn’t find any at our local vegetable market, so I made do with peppers.

Ingredients: 4 green peppers, tops cut off, cleaned out.
1 small onion, chopped.
1 carrot, diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
Garlic, minced
2 cups rice
1 Lb. Italian sausage (here I used ground pork belly, mixed well with toasted fennel seeds,herbs, salt and pepper, minced garlic and a few dashes of wine)
1 cup mushrooms, diced
Stock of some sort

Start by popping two cups of rice in the cooker. I put less water in than usual, I wanted the rice to be a little bit drier. As it was steaming away, I mixed up my ground pork belly and set to work dicing all the vegetables.
I heated a little olive oil in a pan and softened the onion with a little salt, then added the carrot, celery and garlic.
In my wok, I browned the sausage mix (no need for oil, ground pork is plenty fatty enough), taking care to break up all the clumps.
Then I added the softened vegetables to the sausage in the wok. I sauteed the button mushrooms in the frying pan. Once cooked, I drained them of the liquid that cooked out, and added those to the pan as well. Then I mixed in most of the rice. Added some seasoning, really tossed it up mixing thoroughly.
Coated the green peppers inside and out with a little bit of olive oil, and stuffed them. Placed them upright in a pot, and since I was out of stock, filled the pot about halfway up the peppers with water and bouillon powder. Then I covered, and put in an oven at 180C for 50 minutes.

Parmesan-topped Stuffed Peppers

After that I uncovered the pot, sprinkled a generous amount of parmesan on top of each pepper, and put them back in for 15 more minutes. Complete success. Very well received and cute presentation, can also be prepared ahead of time. There was extra filling, which I brought to lunch the next day.


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