Elmwood coach doubles as 'Taste of Royalty' chef
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Tuesday, 16 October 2012 08:35
JERRY CITY - Only the very best, most treasured family favorite recipes make it to the dinner table for Thanksgiving.
|Elmwood teacher Dave Lee with his Fall Mash. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Dave Lee's "Fall Mash" is hardly a family heirloom. He just dreamed it up within the last few weeks, in fact.
But the Elmwood High School varsity wrestling coach has come up with such a flavorful upgrade on the requisite potato dish that his wife, Shelley, has already pronounced it holiday dining-worthy.
In fact, "my wife says 'you're definitely making it for Thanksgiving - and Christmas.'"
No ifs, ands or buts.
Some of the rest of us are going to get an early chance to find out what all the fuss is about, as Lee has agreed to prepare a couple of hundred servings of Fall Mash for inclusion on the menu at this year's Taste of Royalty.
The annual fundraiser for Elmwood High School will be held this Saturday in the school auditeria, from 6 until 8 p.m..
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. They are available at either the high school office or at Country Farmhouse in Wayne.
It's "a delightful dish - using red skin potatoes, sweet potatoes and butternut squash," says Michele Story, Elmwood's athletic director and student activities coordinator. "It is sure to be a hit this year," she predicts.
This will be Lee's first time ever as a Taste of Royalty chef, although he's always willing to lend a hand where he can.
"I've been a waiter for prom three different times," he noted.
Lee got the genesis of the idea for his Fall Mash from a relatively recent episode of the Rachael Ray Show.
"I had a dentist appointment in McComb and they said, 'You want the TV on?'"
Lee said sure, and when the receptionist clicked on the set "the show called Raechel came on."
The first segment was something about "how to buy a bra so it fits. That didn't really help me, but then the cooking part came on."
There were demonstrations of how to make two different dishes, the first featuring chicken and onions.
"The second recipe was called Butternut Squash and Red Russet Potatoes."
Lee ended up trying both dishes at home.
"My wife liked both of them, but especially the potato-squash dish.
"When I made it I knew my wife likes sweet potatoes so I added them," figuring they would add a welcome touch of sweetness and make the dish healthier as well.
He also kept the skin on the potatoes to make for a more interesting appearance, and again, healthier.
Ray didn't mention anything about using butter in the dish "but everything tastes better with butter, so I put some in.
"If I make a big bowl of the mash I usually use a whole stick of butter. I also put in a little bit of brown sugar."
Now here's where it gets controversial.
"Nutmeg was in the original, but I didn't remember it, so I didn't put it in."
Nor did he add nutmeg the second or third time he made his Fall Mash. But the fourth time around he did add it.
"My wife said, 'Did you do something different?' She didn't like the nutmeg. I didn't have any problem with it," but it goes to show you'll have to make the dish both ways and let your own family decide which it likes.
Lee said Shelley is the baker in their family, but basic cooking duties often get shared.
Theirs four sons range in age from 19 to 26, "so they're not home that much."
When it comes time for the holidays, Lee usually makes the main dish and his wife "more the desserts. We kind of share a lot of that stuff. It depends who's the busiest."
Fall Mash isn't tough to pull together. Lee estimates prep time is 45 minutes total, at most.
"You can boil everything but the butternut - I usually start that in the oven and then cut up and boil all the potatoes in the meantime and they're done about the same time."
It's essentially a mashed potatoes dish and it was Shelley who coined the name Fall Mash.
"I love my butternut squash, as long as you've got butter," Lee said. "I love this time of year" with the emphasis on root vegetables and rapidly cooling temperatures.
"I'm definitely making it for Thanksgiving," he said, happy to fulfill his wife's request. "It has a mixture of ingredients that would definitely make it good for fall, for Thanksgiving."
Lee is in his 25th year of coaching, all varsity at Elmwood.
He's also a weight-room supervisor and has a satellite teaching position called career-based intervention. "I have North Baltimore and Elmwood students who come to me. It's a potential-dropout program."
He's actually employed by Penta and has his office in the former Elmwood High School.
Dedication to Elmwood comes naturally, since this Bloomdale native is a 1978 graduate of the school.
He taught just one year at Bluffton before coming to Elmwood 27 years ago.
So when the crowds come through the auditeria at Taste of Royalty this Saturday, Lee will know almost everyone.
1 small butternut squash, peeled, chopped and boiled (could be baked)
2 large* Russet potatoes, peeled, chopped and boiled
1 small sweet potato, peeled, chopped and boiled
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Whole milk or chicken stock for mashing
3 T. brown sugar (or to taste)
1 stick butter
Combine squash, both types of potatoes, brown sugar, and nutmeg with butter, then mash. Add a small amount of milk and mash further, just until mixture is desired consistency.
* It may be hard to find large Russet potatoes. If potatoes are tennis ball size or smaller, use 7 to 8.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 October 2012 08:57