the family dinner series: (finger) foods to celebrate the brachial plexus


beer-battered zucchini fritters


chicken skewers with red pepper pesto


tomato-coriander bruschetta



hearty lentil soup





with qualifying exams fast approaching, we decided to try and squeeze in one last family dinner before the end of our first semester of medical school. we were a bit nervous upon sending out the signup sheet, thinking that our classmates would be too occupied with the thought of qualifiers to make time for for this. but of course, within the first half hour, the signup sheet was filled to capacity! (clearly, we take our exams very seriously around here)

in the spirit of (physical) examinations, though, our dinner was centered around the brachial plexus, the group of nerves that give sensation and motion to our arms. we prepared a variety of finger foods that would allow our guests to show off the dexterity and agility of their own brachial plexi. nimbly, we ate beer-battered zucchini fritters, oven-seared chicken skewers with red pepper pesto, and tomato-coriander bruschettathanks to those handy biceps brachii, we gave our median and ulnar nerves a rest only to enjoy a hearty lentil soup with a spoon (elbow soupination and flexion). in the simple pleasure of each others’ company. the conversation during the evening ranged far and wide, from a discussion about the politics behind publishing scientific articles to a post-meal lumbosacral plexus workout to a brief self-defense seminar taught by one of our classmates.


we close the door to 2014, and with it, our first semester of medical school. where does that leave us? if nothing else, we have learned from these dinners that our classmates are fascinating people. it is a pleasure to break bread with them. no matter who accepted the class-wide invitation, each dinner assumed a unique personality, from the nervous excitement of the early encounters to the comfortable banter of this last dinner. we cannot wait for the adventures that 2015 must hold for us: cranial nerves, comin’ atcha.

be well – w&s

all of today’s recipes adapted from bon appetit fast easy fresh, ed. Barbara Fairchild

serves 8 with $50 total from Aldi and Elm City Market

beer-battered zucchini fritters

IMG_2591      IMG_2590      IMG_2589


canola oil for deep frying

1.75 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups chilled stout or dark beer

4 medium zucchinis, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch thick slices

pour enough oil into heavy, large saucepan to reach depth of 3 inches. heat oil over medium heat. if you have a deep-fry thermometer, it should be at 350 deg F.

mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. add stout; whisk until smooth batter forms. working in batches of 5 or 6 zucchini slices, dip into batter, then add to hot oil. cook until golden brown, about 2 mins per side. using slotted spoon, transfer fritters to paper towels to drain, making sure to remove any bits of batter to prevent burning. sprinkle with salt and serve.


grilled chicken skewers with red pepper pesto

1 7-oz jar roasted red peppers, drained wel

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, peeled

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp ground coriander

pinch ground cinnamon

8 tbsp olive oil, divided

1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted

4 chicken breast halves, skinless & boneless


blend first 7 ingredients and 6 tbsp oil in processor until almost smooth. add almonds and process until finely chopped but not ground. season to taste with salt and pepper. serve at room temperature.


preheat broiler. brush chicken with remaining 2 tbsp oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper both sides. grill until cooked through, about 5 mins per side. cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. skewer each piece with toothpick. arrange on a platter, serve with pesto.

tomato-coriander bruschetta

IMG_2596     IMG_2604

2 tbsp whole coriander seeds

2 12-oz packages cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp dried, crushed red pepper

sourdough or french baguette, cut crosswise into 1/2-in thick rounds

preheat oven to 400 deg F.

stir coriander seeds in heavy small skillet over medium heat until aromatic, about 1 min. cool seeds 10 minutes. put seeds in ziploc bag; crush coarsely with rolling pin.

combine tomatoes, oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper on rimmed baking sheet; toss to blend. sprinkle generously with salt. bake until tomatoes are soft, about 15 minutes, then broil until brown in spots, about 2 minutes. mix in coriander. cool topping on sheet 15 minutes.

arrange bread slices on another baking sheet. bake until just beginning to color, about 5 minutes. mount tomato topping on toasts. arrange on platter and serve.


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