Monday, June 28, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 3

Welcome to a week of similarly-colored dishes (at least they all have bright green in common!) and reused ingredients. Since moving, I have been trying to go a better job of not letting things go to waste and spoil in the fridge. (And when things do spoil, I get to compost them!) Also revisited a lot of favorites this week!

Episode 3, June 21-27

Pasta with asparagus, chevre, and lemon

Pasta with asparagus, chevre, and lemon

A dish (too simple to call a recipe, really from) from Smitten Kitchen that I made once before, when visiting friends in Seattle a little over a year ago. I wanted something that would feel a little lighter than the enchiladas we'd enjoyed the night before. This dish first came to mind because I decided I wanted to buy asparagus from the farmers' market, but I arrived at the FM only to discover that asparagus season had passed me by. Ah well, this was still delicious. Chevre + olive oil + lemon juice makes an excellent pasta coating.

Risotto with bacon and English peas

Bacon pea risotto

Despite risotto with bacon being my major standby dish, this particular incarnation was exciting for two reasons: first, I used the chicken stock I made last weekend! Second, and more importantly, this was my opportunity to cook peas for Andrew and have him like them! And he did! I warmed the peas with the bacon before starting on the risotto itself, then stirred them in with the cheese at the end. They weren't overcooked and mushy!

Consequently, I will be buying fresh peas from the farmers' market every weekend until they stop selling them. I have missed peas so much. (Could mushrooms be next...?)

Pizza with asparagus pesto, yukon gold potatoes, Italian sausage, and mozarella



I used up every last bit of my flour making this pizza dough; I almost didn't have enough. Aside from that little scare, this pizza was great. Mark Bittman supplied the pesto recipe, which helped me use up the rest of the asparagus and made for a tasty base. I haven't made pizza with sliced potatoes before and I was little bit worried about whether they would cook through before the crust burned. They probably could have stood a little more time in the oven but it was pretty good anyway. I've got a pie's worth of leftover dough in the freezer!

Sausage, potato, onion tortilla

Potato and sausage tortilla

Saturday brunch was a good opportunity to use up the rest of the sausage and potato from the pizza a couple night's prior. This was good, a nice eggy start to the day.



I've made this one, also from Smitten Kitchen, a few times before, but this time there were some distinct differences: for starters, I use all ingredients from the farmers' market! I think it may be the first time I've actually made this dish when zucchini and yellow squash were seasonal. It was fun to use the Japanese eggplant, which is proportionally comparable to the squashes. I used fresh basil (also a FM purchase) instead of thyme. And I made my own tomato puree by blending up some FM tomatoes with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. It's not the same as using the stuff from the can--lighter taste, for sure.

Peach cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting

Peach cupcakes

Peach cupcakes

Let's round out the week with another Smitten Kitchen recipe! I made these once in Houston and have been dreaming of them since. So happy I got up the energy and remembered to buy peaches! I sent Andrew to work with a baker's dozen this morning; I don't expect any to come back (that's cool, though; we've still got seven six left).

BONUS LUNCH: Summer veggie stir-fry with chicken

Summer veggie stir fry with chicken

Since I'm working from home these days, I eat the vast majority of my lunches here. I haven't bothered to include them though because usually I'm just eating leftovers and fruit (case in point, today was cherries, leftover tortilla, and a nectarine). But I was pretty pleased with my remixed leftovers last Thursday, inspired by the Pioneer Woman: I took some of the chicken that didn't make it into enchiladas and fried it up with corn (frozen), zucchini, chili powder, and tomatoes. It was delicious.

I ended up using the rest of the chicken in a quesadilla on Friday, mixing it up with some asparagus pesto and mozarello cheese from the pizza, using tortillas leftover from enchiladas.

Let's see if I can be as good about using up my leftovers and extra ingredients this week; I bought twice as much squash and eggplant as I needed for the rataouille. Hmm...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pâte a Choux and Parmesan Gougères


For Christmas last year, my mother gave me a copy of Michael Ruhlman's Ratio. I started reading it a month or so later, but became discouraged. I loved the philosophy espoused in its page, but I felt like the real value would be found in learning the basic recipes and then playing with variations, and I didn't have the energy or a reason to bake bread every week. Before last week, the only thing I'd made from the book was a basic ganache.

Just a couple months ago, however, I started reading Ruhlman's blog, and in one post he included a video demonstration of pâte a choux, a French pastry covered in the book. It looked breathtakingly easy to make, and I don't mean in the way that people who are talented make what they do look easy. And not only did it seems incredibly easy, but also extremely versatile--the video showed one preparation, gougère, but he explained several different things you can do with the pastry dough, from eclairs to finger sandwiches to gnocchi and potato pancakes.

And I thought to myself, "This seems like a project I can commit to." The basic recipe is simple enough, and the variations are simple enough. I had been intimidated, but not anymore, not by pâte a choux. And it went perfectly. You have no excuse not to try this at home yourself. I highly recommend Ruhlman's video, but you can follow along with me if you like:

You'll need flour, water, butter, eggs, and cheese:

Making pate a choux

The ratio for pâte a choux is 2 parts water : 1 part butter : 1 part flour : 2 parts egg. You can use this fundamental ratio to scale the recipe up or down. In the book, Ruhlman lists a recipe that will make 24 gougères as having 8oz water, 4oz (one stick) butter, 4oz (a scant cup) flour, and 8oz (4) eggs. I made a half recipe.

By the way, see that bowl on the right in the previous picture? I didn't actually need that. All you need to make this dough is a pot and a spoon.

In said pot, combine the water, butter, and a little salt, and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat:

Making pate a choux

Once it's simmering, lower the heat to medium and stir in the flour:

Making pate a choux

Stir until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pot, like this:

Making pate a choux

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool slightly, either by letting it sit or running cool water over the base. Don't let it cool too much, though--the mixture needs to be warm when you add the eggs.

Add them one at a time and stir until combined:

Making pate a choux

Making pate a choux

Ta da!

Making pate a choux

Aaaand you've made pâte a choux! You can do many different things with it now. If you want to make gougères, keep following along!

Preheat your oven to 425F.

Get the pâte a choux into a plastic bag and squeeze it down to one corner; a ziplock will do:

Making gougere

Snip off the tip of the corner. Now you've got a piping bag!

Making gougere

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat, and pipe out golf ball-sized mounds of pâte a choux:

Making gougere

See those cute those points? They'll burn if left as they are. So, wet your fingertip with water or milk and tap them down:

Making gougere

Much better!

I decided to add some parmesan cheese to my gougères, simply by grating a bit and sprinkling it over the tops (I later learned that you should use French cheese, not Italian):

Making gougere

Put the baking sheet in the preheated oven.

Look how puffy they got! (Apologies for the horrible photo through the oven door; opening the door set off the smoke detector, so I decided to play it safe.)


Making gougere

After 10 minutes, lower the heat to 350F and bake for 10 more minutes.


Making gougere

That's all there is to it! So simple and non-time-consuming, I made these at 10:30pm for a snack and still made it to bed by midnight.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What I cooked this week, Episode 2

Episode 2, June 14-20

Red lentil soup and blue cheese-scallion biscuits

Red lentil soup and blue cheese scallion biscuit

Blue cheese scallion biscuits

The title is misleading--the biscuits came first. I had blue cheese leftover from last week's salad, and remembered this Smitten Kitchen recipe for blue cheese biscuits with scallions. Biscuits do not a meal make, however, so I fell back on this lentil soup that I first made during the winter of my first year of college. The original recipe calls for French lentils, but I've almost always made it with red. It's really hearty and thick, so much so though that even a self-proclaimed soup-hater like my husband enjoyed it. My biscuits did not turn out as pretty as Deb's, but they were fluffy and delicious.

Salmon and leek quiche

miscat 051

Another recipe in the interest of using up a leftover ingredient, salmon in this case, this quiche from Chocolate&Zucchini was pretty satisfying. I had a little less of both salmon and leek than the recipe called for, so I added another egg. I really enjoyed the creme fraiche filler (especially since we got to use Bellwether!). Yes, the crust is frozen.

Pancakes and bacon, with blueberries

Pancakes for lunch

Weekend brunch. Pancake batter was too thin/my pan was too hot, resulting in thin, overcooked pancakes and the smoke detector sending the kittens into hiding for a good hour. I think I'm giving up on pancakes until I acquire an appropriate skillet. The blueberries were huge and juicy, at least.

Gougeres with Parmesan


Finally got around to making pate a choux. Michael Ruhlman has an excellent video demonstrating exactly how simple pate a choux is to make, as well as a couple different preparation. MAN is it simple! You have no excuse not to go make some delicious pate a choux right now! I went with perhaps the simplest preparation, gougere, and topped them with a little grated cheddar. Expect a post mid-week with step-by-step directions, or just go watch that video. And buy a copy of Ratio.

White chicken enchiladas

white chicken enchiladas

When I found out we were leaving Houston, by first thought may very well have been "But WHERE WILL I GET ENCHILADAS?" I'm sure I'll find good enchiladas here in San Francisco, but this recipe from the Pioneer Woman was really satisfying in the meantime. Not gonna lie, this one takes some preparation time (and a whole lotta dishes), from cooking and shredding the chicken (another young brown hen from the farmers' market!) to creating the chicken filling and cheese sauce, to filling the tortillas (I used flour, Tex-Mex throwback). Worth it, though. "Sticks to your ribs" is probably an apt description.

I got some extras out of it, too (not just counting leftovers). I've got a container full of chicken fat for rendering, and a whole bunch of...

Chicken stock

Chicken stock

The enchilada recipe called for poaching the chicken to cook it, so I started with the water leftover from that, already full of chicken flavor. I returned the bones (stripped of meat/fat/skin) to the pot, along with onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, garlic, salt, and pepper, and cooked it for a little longer. My last experience trying to make stock did not go well (too much fat, and then I froze the whole lot, instead of in portions, leaving myself with one giant stocksicle), but I'm optimistic this time.

Berries and whipped cream

Blackberries and blue berries with fresh whipped cream

Yeah, not a lot to this one. Cream, sugar, vanilla. And actually, I kinda wish I hadn't made the whipped cream at all; the blueberries and blackberries were so good on their own they really didn't need it. Consequently, I may or may not have ended up eating the whipped cream out of the mixing bowl with a spoon.

I tried a lot of new things this week, and they all turned out well! I'm especially looking forward to using the stock in a future recipe and trying more preparations of pate a choux.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Moules Mariniere

Mussels close-up

I made mussels back in March and wrote this at the time, but just got around to making it postable. Enjoy!

I enjoy variety in my meals. Whenever I go out to eat, I want to try as many dishes as possible, experience a range of flavors and textures. I'm notorious for discouraging my dining companions to order duplicate dishes, and at this point I believe my husband would be surprised if I didn't sneak bites off of his plate.

I first tried mussels at the Hop Leaf in Andersonville, north of Chicago, during my 3rd year of college. The menu listed them as Brussels Mussels, they came with frites and house mayo and crusty bread for soaking up the broth, and oh my, they were delicious.

My one problem with these mussels, on subsequent visits, was that if I wasn't with people who wanted to share with me, I had consume the mussels all by myself which left me too full to want to try any other dishes. This was too much of the same thing; I craved variety.

Now? I happily make an exception for mussels, and I don't mind keeping them all to myself. My current favorites are the Mussels Rabelais, at Cafe Rabelais in Houston. (My Pompeii Mussels at Frijtz in SF were pretty good, though.)

I had read that mussels were really quite easy to cook, and so I was determined this season to make them for myself while they were still in season.

I picked the recipe for moules mariniere with saffron from Chocolate & Zucchini because a) Clotilde's instructions on prepping the mussels were clearest and made me feel the most confident, and b) I still have saffron from my trip to Thailand my senior year of high school and figured this would be a good use to put it to.

I decided to make a little-more-than-half recipe; Andrew isn't really a mussels eater so while he'd probably have a few, I'd be eating most of them myself. The recipe recommended two pounds of uncooked mussels per person for a main course, so I bought three. This may have been a little high, but I had no idea how many I would be throwing out. I bought the mussels from Whole Foods, and they were downright cheap--$3.99 a pound. If this worked out, I promised myself, I would have to make these again, for that price!

I got home with my prize and discovered what is likely the reason that most people don't make mussles at home and are willing to pay a decent amount of money to eat them at restaurants: prepping them is time consuming. First, I soaked them all together in a big bowl of water, sloshing them around so that they might knock dirt off of each other. Air bubbles rose from the bivalves as they disgorged themselves of sand and grit, reminding me that I was about to cook living creatures, which is both exciting and disturbing. Luckily, I am not a squeamish individual. After some time I threw out that water and soaked the mussels again, to get rid of as much remaining sand as possible.


After this second soak, the fun began. One by one, I picked up each individual mussel and inspected it. I checked for cracks or holes, scrubbed off any grime still adhered to the shell, and removed the "beard," the hairlike fibers coming out of the shell. This part could be a little gruesome; at one point I swear I felt the mussel tugging back, and when I finally freed the stuff some flesh came away with it. If you are at all squeamish, this is not for you. Finally, I also checked to make sure that the two halves of shell were sealed tight. If the shell is not tightly sealed, the mussel is probably dead and should be discarded. If the mussel is dead, there's no telling how long it's been dead; if it's been dead for some time, harmful bacteria may have begun to grow. So, it's simpler to just not take the risk--even though I swear some of the ones I had to eliminate had been closed during the soaking process.

If the shell is not closed tightly, you're supposed to tap it gently with your fingernail; if the mussel is still alive, the shell will close within a minute. It's not a quick snap or anything like that, but rather a slow motion. I saw it happen once. And just once. Of all of partially-open shells I found, only one actually showed signs of life. I ended up with a sink lined with mussels and was feeling fairly discouraged, especially since some of the larger ones in the haul had proven to not be viable.

At this point, everything pretty much comes together on its own.

Mussels steaming

Onions and garlic in butter? Done. Add mussels, cover. They release a lot of liquid and steam in their own juices, almost all the way before you add whatever liquid you're going to add. This recipe called for champagne, but because I didn't feel like opening a bottle we weren't going to finish right then (this was lunch and there were only two of us), I decided to finish off a bottle of French vermouth I had in the fridge. Saffron and black pepper, and... done. Really. After all that prep work, it takes about ten minutes to finish the dish.

Mussels for lunch!

I definitely want to make mussels again, and try some other recipes. I think it was a mistake to use the vermouth; it overpowered the other flavors, ended up dominant, and that wasn't really what I was going for. I couldn't taste the saffron at all. I think I'll try French style next, like at Rabelais (white wine and cream, mmmm).

If it weren't for all the prep that goes into preparing mussels, I'm pretty sure that everyone who enjoys eating them would make them at home all the time. Cooking them really is that simple. If you have someone helping you clean and inspect the little suckers, I bet it goes a lot faster. The next time I make mussels, I'm going to invite friends over to share them with me. And if you offer to help prep, I bet an invitation will come your way!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

What I cooked this week, the Prequel

In the interest of posting more fun food photos, here are the cooked-at-home meals we have had (not counting my work-week lunches) since moving in:

Episode i, May 15-June 7

Bresola and pecorino

Meat + cheese

Bresola dressed with California olive oil and lemon juice, with tomato paste-rubbed pecorino and cibatta toasts, from Say Cheese. Okay, so this one didn't really involve any cooking, just dressing the meat and cutting the cheese. But it was delicious, and we're ecstatic to have such an awesome cheese'n'meat place nearby.

Roast poussin with root veggies

Roast chicken

Young brown hen, yukon gold and red potatoes, and carrots all from Divisadero farmers' market.
Step 1: toss cut veggies with olive oil, herbs, minced garlic, and a little honey.
Step 2: slather bird with honey-herb butter and stuff it with a lemon.
Step 3: brown the bird in French oven.
Step 4: throw veggies in the pot, put the lid on and put the whole thing in the oven till it's done.
The chicken came from an egg vendor, who warned that it would need a lot of moisture and wouldn't have a ton of meat. Cooking it with the lid on worked perfectly, and it was just enough meat for the two of us.

Oven-baked omelet


Mmm, brown crispy edges!

Niman ranch bacon; potatoes from Divisadero farmers' market; homemade goat cheese; onion. This was part of my "I will cook EVERY DISH in my La Creuset French oven!' phase (which is not entirely over, and for good reason). The goat cheese which I made the day before got kind of lost; oh well. I loved that I cooked brown the bacon and the veggies, pour over the egg, and then just stick it in the oven to finish. Hooray for lazy weekend brunches.

Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon

Brussels sprouts with bacon

Brussels sprouts from Divisadero farmers' market; Niman Ranch bacon. A little overcooked, but still delicious.

Braised artichokes and steak

Braised artichokes and steak

Artichokes were tasty and delicious. Steak was slightly overcooked; I have yet to cook a steak really well, which sad now that I'm finally appreciating great steak. Halp?

Banana bread

Banana Bread

We had four, sad, bruised-looking bananas sitting in the bowl. Turns out they weren't bruised at all on the inside. Oh well! They mashed up quite nicely, and this banana bread was a great weekend treat.

Tacos de carnitas with pico de gallo and avocado

Taco Taco!

Tomatoes and cilantro from the Divisadero Farmers' Market.
I love the shredded pork shoulder recipe from How to Cook Everything (it's the same recipe I used for the empanada filling): cut the meat into chunks and stick it in a dutch oven with a quartered onion, garlic, dried chile peppers, bays leaves, cumin, and water to cover, then let it cook for about an hour. Ta da! For this meal I then took the cook meat, cut it into smaller, bite-sized pieces, and fried it in its own fat until crispy. We served it on tortillas with avocado chunks and pico de gallo. I'd been dreaming about making pica de gallo since tomato season rolled around; I wasn't disappointed.

What I cooked this week, Episode 1

The hubs and I are trying to eat at home more than we did in our last few months of living in Houston, at least two dinners during the week and at least one dinner and one lunch on the weekend. In the interest of holding ourselves accountable to this, I'm going to post a weekly rundown of what I cook each week. Also, I take a lot of photos that I want to share but don't have the energy to put together a post every time I cook a meal; this way, I get to post them.

Episode 1, June 7-13, 2010

Thai red curry with chicken, zucchini, and yellow squash

Thai curry

An old standby. Zucchini and yellow squash from the Divisadero farmers' market. I explain how to make this dish in this post.

Beet, bacon, goat cheese sandwiches

Beet bacon goat cheese sandwiches

Beets from the Divisadero farmers' market; Niman Ranch bacon; Redwood Hills Farm garlic-chive chevre. This was a good idea, and all the elements were great (I love roasted beets!), but there was too much bread. Better luck--and less bread--next time.

Peach and blue cheese baby arugula salad with bacon and vinagrette

Peach and blue cheese arugula salad

California peaches; Point Reyes blue cheese; Niman Ranch bacon (at $6 a package, I really stretch this bacon out); homemade vinagrette. This salad, inspired by a special at The Monk's Kettle, was AMAZING. I loved the peach and blue cheese combo. Will make again.

Whole wheat pasta with pan-cooked salmon and arugula pesto

Pasta with pan-cooked salmon and arugula-walnut pesto

This dish came together in about 15 minutes. Everything about it is fast: Throw stuff in the food processor--you've got pesto. Salmon cooks in five or six minutes. Pasta cooks in less than ten. The pesto was a little bitter on its own but was helped by the other elements of the dish.

We also had some spaghetti with sauce that Andrew made last week (we froze the leftovers, exactly two portions' worth), but I have no photo.

A successful week, all in all. I am taking more care in plating my food these days, and still trying to find the best lighting in my kitchen during the day and at night.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thai curry

Thai curry

This is my contribution to the "anyone can cook" camp. If you have 20 minutes and are capable of cutting things and stirring things, then you can make delicious Thai curry.

I learned this dish from Nancie McDermott's Quick and Easy Thai Cooking, but you don't need to open a book to do it yourself. It's so simple!

I'm going to show you how to make Thai red curry with chicken, zucchini, and summer squash.

Part of the beauty of this dish, though, is its flexibility. Use green or musaman curry if you like; use beef, pork, or tofu instead of chicken; use mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, pineapple, or pretty much any other vegetable you enjoy/have lying around. You'll just adjust your cooking times slightly depending on the meat or veg you use (I'll mention this below, too).

Other pluses: you don't have to worry about your meats or veggies drying out from overcooking because they're in a sauce, so they stay moist. And it only uses one pot!

Let's begin. Follow along step by step, or skip to the bottom for the short (five step!) version.

Our cast of characters:

Cast of characters

Red curry paste, coconut milk (unsweetened), nam pla (fish sauce)--all available at your grocery store; look in the pasta or ethnic foods aisle--one pound of boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces (you can use chicken breast if you prefer), and one zucchini and one summer squash cut into bite-sized pieces. Not pictured: brown sugar.

It is important that you cut up your chicken and veggies ahead of time--once you start cooking, it goes so fast that you won't have time for doing it as you go.

You'll also want to start a pot of rice cooking now--it will be done by the time the curry is!

All right, here we go!

Open the can of coconut milk. It may look something like this:

Coconut milk

Alternatively, you may see solid white. Either way, the coconut milk is separated. You'll want to pour it into some kind of vessel so that you can mix it back together:

Coconut milk

Perfect. Now, get out a wok or a pot, pour half the coconut milk in, and turn the heat to medium.

After about two minutes, the coconut milk will start to smell delicious and be bubbling gently:

Cooking the coconut milk

At this point, add your curry paste. Depending on your taste for heat, you can add anywhere from one to three tablespoons. I usually use a heaping tablespoon:

Adding red curry paste

You'll be able to add more later if you want it a little hotter; you'll also be adding water later so if it ends up a little too spicy, you can dilute it more.

Mash the paste around in the coconut milk until it is all mixed in, for about two minutes:

Cooking red curry paste with coconut milk

Cooking red curry paste with coconut milk


Now, add the chicken. Just dump it all in. Use your spoon to stir it around, coating each piece entirely in sauce and cooking slightly for, you guessed it, about two minutes:

Adding chicken

If you're using beef or tofu, just take 1 minute. Also, if you're using tough veggies like sweet potato, pumpkin, or broccoli, go ahead and add them now.

You'll know it's been long enough when the chicken pieces start to look white instead of pink:

Par-cooked chicken

Now we add everything else! First you'll add the rest of the coconut milk and half a cup to a cup of water. If it looks watery, don't worry--it's supposed to be that wet. Thai curry is a lot soupier than, say, Indian curry.

Next, add 1 tablespoon of fish sauce:

Adding fish sauce

This stuff smells strong up close (it's anchovy extract, after all), but it's definitely not an overpowering flavor in the sauce. It's absolutely essential. If you're vegetarian or vegan, you can substitute soy sauce. But to you omnivores, even those who think they don't like fish: use the nam pla.

Add your veggies!

Adding squash

Next add two tablespoons of brown sugar. If you have palm sugar, even better, but brown works fine:

Adding brown sugar

Now stir everything together. At this point, taste the sauce to check the spice level. If you want it hotter, add a little more curry paste. If you want it milder, add up to another half cup of water. Simple! (If you're eating with someone with a lower spice tolerance than you, feel free to add a little paste or a dash of cayenne powder to your bowl after serving, like I do.)

Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat and vegetables are cooked through. And...that's it!

Thai red curry with chicken and squash

To serve, place a mound of rice in a bowl (we used brown Texmati):

Thai curry for dinner

Spoon a generous amount of meat and veggies over the rice:

Thai curry for dinner

Don't forget to go back for some delicious sauce! The rice will soak it all up:

Thai curry for dinner

And there you have it: a beautiful plate of Thai red curry with chicken, zucchini, and summer squash:

Thai curry

Extra bonus feature!*

When you're eating Thai curry, don't reach for the chopsticks! To eat like people in Thailand do, observe the following:

You'll need a fork and a big spoon:

Thai curry

Holding the spoon in your right (or dominant) hand and the fork in your left (or opposite) hand, use the back of the fork to push food onto the spoon:

Thai curry

Then eat from the spoon!

Thai curry

With wet curries like this, it really makes the most sense to eat from a spoon, so you can get all of that delicious sauce. Enjoy!

Thai red curry with chicken, zucchini, and summer squash
Adapted from Quick and Easy Thai Cooking by Nancie McDermott

serves 3-4 (or 2 very hungry people!)

1 can coconut milk
1-3 tablespoons red curry paste
1lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon nam pla (fish sauce)
2 tablespoons brown sugar or palm sugar
1/2-1 cup water
1 large zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large summer (yellow) squash, cut into bite-sized pieces

1. Simmer coconut milk over medium heat for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
2. Add curry paste mix in. Cook 2 minutes.
3. Add chicken, tossing to coat, for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until chicken and squash are cooked through, stirring occasionally.
5. Serve over rice.

*Yes, it's redundant to say "extra bonus." So sue me.