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Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers, Oakland CA

Thirty-five years ago Barney’s Gourmet Hamburgers opened its first location in Oakland, and has now grown into a family of Californian restaurants featuring preservative-free ingredients and toppings prepared in house.  If you’re in the mood for something simple and of high quality production, Barney’s offers a wide variety of burgers, including vegetarian options.

onion rings & vegetables basket, half order

onion rings & vegetables basket, half order

All fresh vegetables are cut and prepared in house.  The portobello mushroom slice, zucchini spears, and giant onion rings were hand battered, served with ranch dressing and a large handful of Parmesan sprinkled on top.  Zach loves zucchini and he thinks that, considering how thickly cut these spears were, they were cooked evenly throughout yet not overcooked.  August really liked the thick portobello, and we agreed that the batter was very nicely crispy and not at all oily.

sunshine burger with breast of chicken

sunshine burger with breast of chicken

We’re only quoting the menu in the caption; otherwise, we’d say “chicken breast.”  Moving on now.  August’s sandwich with avocado, sprouts, cheddar, and tomato on grilled whole wheat was wholesome and light with good char on the meat. The pickle slice and thousand island provided a little zing to an otherwise uncomplicated sandwich.

voodoo burger with a 1 lb big barney's patty on a baguette

voodoo burger with a 1 lb big barney’s patty on a baguette

Because Zach can’t eat seeds and the standard bun here as them, he requested his Voodoo Burger to come as a Big Barney’s Burger, meaning 1 lb. and on a baguette.  He didn’t get it this way for the size, just for the bread.  The beef used in the Northern Californian Barney’s locations is from Niman Ranch, and it came cooked medium as he had asked.  With provolone and blue cheese, bacon, and mushrooms sauteed in their “special voodoo sauce,” this is one smoky, fiery burger.  It had a little spicy afterkick but it wasn’t too much, so those afraid of heat shouldn’t worry.  The amount of cheese and bacon would satisfy any cheese or bacon lover.

From Berkeley to Los Angeles, Barney’s is making a name for itself as a champion of freshness.  You’re bound to find something here that you’ll enjoy (and the portions are big enough that your dog back at home will enjoy it, too).

Angel Hair Pasta with White Clam Sauce, Sauteed Zucchini, and Garlic Bread

This is one of Zach’s staples, a recipe he has memorized.  It’s a comfort food tradition that we’ve already established in our young marriage.  August never had anything quite like it in her pre-Zach life, and now it’s something she looks forward coming home to after a long day at school.

Makes 2 (with lots of leftover bread)

• For the garlic bread:

1 baguette

1/3 cup of softened butter

2-3 oz. of freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 tbs. of finely minced garlic

1/2 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of dried basil

Pinch of dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice the top off of the baguette loaf; discard, or save it to make bread crumbs for some future recipe.  Thoroughly mix the butter, garlic, pepper, basil, and oregano in a bowl.  Use the back of a spoon to spread the mixture over the sliced part of the baguette.  Evenly place shaved Parmesan on top.



Bake for 10-12 minutes on a baking sheet until the cheese is melted.



• For the zucchini:

2 large zucchinis

1/2 of one white onion

1 large Roma tomato

1/4 cup of whole milk

1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 cup of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

1 egg yolk

1 tbs. and 1 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. of finely minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Rub the tomato with 1 tsp. of olive oil and a little bit of salt and pepper.  Bake in a glass baking dish for 1 hour.  After baking, let cool slightly and remove the skin.

Cut the zucchini into 1/2″ coins, and thinly slice half of an onion.  In a large saute pan, heat 1 tbs. of olive oil over medium-low heat, and add sliced onions and a pinch of pepper and cook for about 20 minutes until onions are slightly caramelized; not much stirring is required, but don’t ignore the pan for 20 minutes, either.  Add the minced garlic during the last 3 minutes

left: white clam sauce (recipe down a bit lower); right: caramelizing onions

left: white clam sauce (recipe down a bit lower); right: caramelizing onions

Roughly chop the roasted tomato.  Increase the heat under the saute pan to medium, and add the tomato to the onions.  Cook for 1 minute to marry the flavors, stirring once.  Add the zucchini and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring once a minute.

clam pasta garlic bread zucchini 042

In a mixing bowl, combine milk, grated Parmesan, and egg yolk with a whisk.  Pour this into the saute pan after the zucchini has cooked for its additional 5 minutes.  Cook for 1 minute more, stirring frequently.

clam pasta garlic bread zucchini 048

Salt to taste at the end (especially with squashes, because they are water-based and you can draw the water out if you add salt at the beginning).  Put on a plate, and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan before serving.

• For the white clam sauce and pasta:

1/2 box of Barilla Plus angel hair pasta

2 cans of clams

1/4 cup of white wine

2 tbs. of butter

1 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs. of finely minced garlic

1 tsp. of dried basil

Small pinch of red chili pepper flakes

Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese to garnish

Cook pasta according to box, but make sure you salt your water so that “it tastes like the sea” (Chef Zach recommends).  Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and chili pepper flakes, and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently because you don’t want the garlic to burn.  Add the clams, white wine, and basil, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring twice.

clam pasta garlic bread zucchini 018

Toss the pasta and sauce together, plate it, and garnish with shredded Parmesan.

clam pasta garlic bread zucchini 055

Veal Parmesan with Pancetta-Roasted Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta

pbicecreammaking and veal parmesan 055

Many components add up to a sumptuous meal.  Due to timing involved, it may be best to make this with two people in the kitchen – great for Valentine’s Day coming up this Thursday!

Makes 2-3

• For the sauce:

24 oz. of Hunt’s whole plum tomatoes

8 oz. of beef broth

1/2 of one white onion

1/4 cup of red wine (like a cabernet sauvignon)

2 tbs. of olive oil

3 garlic cloves

1 tsp. of dried oregano

1 tsp. of dried basil

Preheat a medium size saucepan over medium heat with the olive oil.  Dice the onion and garlic finely (not together).  Add the onion to the heated olive oil, cook for 1 minute and then reduce heat to medium low.  Let sit for 15 minutes on medium low, stirring every 1-2 minutes.  Add the diced garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes on medium low, stirring every 1-2 minutes.

Add all the other ingredients and stir in.  Bring to a slow simmer, then reduce to low heat.  Cook for an hour, stirring every 5 minutes.  The whole tomatoes will break down naturally through cooking.

After an hour of cooking, run 3/4 of the sauce through a food processor, then recombine the 3/4 processed and 1/4 unprocessed sauces in the original saucepan.  Keep warm on the lowest heat possible.

• For the polenta:

2 cups of water

2 cups of whole milk

1 cup of Golden Pheasant polenta

1/2 cup of shredded BelGioioso Parmesan cheese

2 tbs. of butter

2 tsp. of kosher salt

Dash of freshly grated nutmeg

Bring water, milk, salt, and nutmeg to a boil in a medium size saucepan, preferably non-stick.  Slowly add polenta, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, still stirring, for 20-25 minutes.  Mix in butter and Parmesan cheese, then cover with a lid to keep warm.  Leave it on the burner but with the heat off so as to use the residual heat for warmth.

• For the mushrooms:

8 oz. of whole white button mushrooms

2 oz. of pancetta, finely diced

Splash of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Put all ingredients in a baking dish and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are tender and pancetta is slightly crisped.  Stir 1-2 times during its period in the oven.

• For the veal parmesan cutlets:

Prepared tomato sauce (above)

3 veal cutlets, about 1/4 lb. each or less

2 cups of flour, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper

2 cups of panko crumbs

6 oz. of Galbani Precious fresh mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup of canola oil

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 large eggs

Splash of milk

Sprinkling of shredded BelGioioso Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper for seasoning

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Put the flour, panko, and beaten eggs with a splash of milk in three different dishes with deep sides, to be used to coat the veal cutlets before frying.  Pound the veal cutlets and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Dredge the cutlets in flour, dusting off any excess.  Dip in beaten egg and milk mixture on both sides, and let excess drip off.  Coat the cutlets in panko on both sides.

In a large saute pan, heat both oils over medium-high heat.  Lay breaded cutlets in pan one at a time with at least 1 minute spacing apart.  Each cutlet needs no longer than 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Put a grate on a cookie sheet and place the cutlets on the grate, so that they’re not sitting in the tomato sauce you’re about to pour over.

With a spoon or ladle, portion about 2 tbs. of tomato sauce over each cutlet.  Sprinkle the Parmesan, then lay two 1 oz. slices of mozzarella over the sauce.  Put in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, until cheese melts.  Spoon a bit more sauce over the cheese before serving.  Have a green salad on the side to balance things out.