December 16, 2007
My friend Mary invited Jim and me for dinner last night for some pheasant that she had been given by a hunter. I put the "pheasant" and "hunter" part out of my mind because I didn't want to think about the poor bird being shot, and accepted. I offered to bring bread, and told her I was working on this almost no-knead bread and gave her a choice among the four variations. She chose cranberry-pecan, which made me quite happy.
When we got to Doug and Mary's house, I mentioned my reservations about the dead pheasants, and Doug assured me that pheasants were extremely stupid and did not even notice when they were shot. Moreover, he said, they were so moronic that they couldn't even make it through a Minnesota winter. They would freeze to death, he claimed, and were much better off being shot. Anyway, he added, going on the offensive, why was I being so sensitive about pheasants when I represented murderers? Well, I said, that's completely different.
The pheasant was quite good. Mary served it with a fruity, winey sauce, along with a cranberry relish and a dish of lentils, brown rice, and caramelized onions. Even though we had cranberry relish and a fruity sauce, the cranberry-pecan bread was just right with the dinner--not too much fruit at all.
Dessert was a sweet potato-candied ginger pie that Doug made himself. Men always demand (and get) so much credit when they cook, but it was good pie.
After two weeks in a row of The America's Test Kitchen No-Knead Bread 2.0, I've decided it really is an excellent recipe, and the cranberry-pecan version is just as good as the basic white bread recipe. The only difference is adding 1/3 cup each of pecans and dried cranberries with the dry ingredients. I used more--at least 1/2 cup each, because I wanted to have it bursting with the dried fruit and nuts. This time I used about 1/3 cup of sourdough starter instead of the vinegar, and it added a more complex flavor than the vinegar alone. I had to steal a bottle of beer from a party I went to Friday night in order to get the bread started on Friday night. Unfortunately for Jim, it was Miller Lite, and he drew the line at drinking the rest of that, so I have most of a bottle of Miller Lite in the refrigerator. I guess I'll have to bake another loaf of bread.