Dishes in the Key of Duck, at Rustic Garden Bistro

At a gathering of food bloggers and the people who love them, you know you’ll have good things to eat. You might also be advised, there’s often a theme involved. Recently, at a brunch hosted by Kim Burnell of Rustic Garden Bistro at her home in the hills above Tustin, it was all about dishes in the key of duck

Duck confit was represented, as part of a savory spring hash. Cantonese roast duck, from famous Lien Hoa in Westminster, got folded into pancakes with scallions and hoisin sauce. Duck fat, that kitchen treasure, replaced the bit of olive oil in handmade fettuccine noodles, for which Burnell’s chickens supplied the eggs. I decided to bring the savory brioche I’d been eyeing in Michael Ruhlman’s “The Book of Schmaltz” (Little, Brown $27). Ruhlman’s recipe, as you can tell from the title, uses seasoned chicken fat to replace the butter that usually enriches brioche. I thought I’d try some of the duck fat I keep in the freezer, waiting for confit-making.  

Worked great! Light, rich, golden, like all good brioche—but with a little something extra. Not discernibly ducky, but def there. I used the dough to make a flatbread, topped after cooling with very thin slivers of smoked duck breast from The Cheese Shop at The OC Mix, chopped scallions, and a thread of Sriracha mayonnaise. The brioche recipe from the book's on Epicurious, if you’d like to try.

I’ve just learned that the next theme is noodles. That covers a lot of ground! Like, the entire globe. I’d better get thinking.