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Posted on Tue, May 11, 2010 : 10:30 a.m.

Curried potato and pea latkes recipe: Contest a way to embrace being shiksa

By Mary Bilyeu

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Although I've been a bit lax in the past year or so, due to a variety of circumstances that haven't seemed inclined to let me exert any influence over them, my primary hobby is entering cooking contests. I have to feed Jeremy anyway, right? So why not try something new, enter it into a competition, and possibly win a prize for it???

I've won everything from cash to trips to cookbooks to aprons to fruit- and brownie-of-the-month packages ... a wide assortment of rewards and amusements. I belong to Cooking Contest Central, a site that lists hundreds of local, one-time, national, ongoing and quirky contests, and am constantly amazed by the variety of companies using contests as a marketing tool.

fuzzybutt latke shirt.jpg

Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

I can't enter everything -- there simply isn't enough time or enough grocery money for trial and error. But when I saw a contest sponsored by a woman who bills herself as The Shiksa in the Kitchen, I knew -- secular Jew that I consider myself, though officially not Jewish -- that I needed to pursue this one. A "shiksa," after all, is a non-Jewish woman ... but particularly a non-Jewish woman among Jews. Although the word was originally considered derogatory, these days it is generally used with humor ... and I embrace it!

Having just served Curried Potato and Pea Latkes -- a variation on one of the most classic Jewish foods -- for dinner the very night I learned about the contest, I knew I had the perfect entry; it met the criteria for being kosher, easy and original. I typed it up, sent it in, and waited to hear good news.

I received an email on April 29: "Shalom and congratulations! You have been selected as a finalist in our Shiksa in the Kitchen Kosher Recipe Contest, which means you are currently being considered for a position in the winner's circle." Prizes were to be announced on Friday on the Shiksa's new YouTube video channel.

Alas, once the video was posted I found only glory but no prize money -- I was awarded an Honorable Mention, and will receive an autographed copy of the Shiksa's first cookbook when it is published. (My recipe may or may not make an appearance in that book, too.) But I am proud to have been named a finalist, with several of my contesting friends also on the honorees' list. Mazal Tov to the winners!!!

Here is an easy version of my recipe, starting with a mix and tweaking it somewhat. The house smells amazing while these cook, and the aroma is only exceeded by the taste ....

Curried Potato and Pea Latkes

2 eggs
2-1/4 cups water
1 6-ounce box Manischewitz potato pancake mix
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon hot curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 cups frozen hash browns
2/3 cup frozen peas
lots of oil for frying


1. In a medium bowl, beat eggs; stir in water. Add the potato pancake mix, salt, curry powder, cumin and cayenne. Stir to combine; let batter rest for 5 minutes, then add the grated potatoes and peas.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (If you want to pretend that this is health food, just lightly coat the skillet with oil. If you want the full latke experience, pour the oil 1/4" deep and be sure to refill the skillet for each batch, if needed.)

3. Scoop the batter by 1/4-cupfuls into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side. Repeat until the batter is all gone. Makes 12 latkes.

NOTE: I just added a page to Food Floozie -- my blog about eating 'n' cooking 'n' eating some more -- that lists all of my contest wins, if anyone wants to check it out ... :)

Mary Bilyeu has won or placed in more than 60 cooking contests and writes about her adventures as she tries to win prizes, feeds hungry teenagers and other loved ones and generally just has fun in the kitchen. The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured next to the blog's title) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers as they cook along with her ... may you always be happy here. You can contact Mary at or follow her on Twitter ( And look for her new food blog:



Tue, May 11, 2010 : 8:56 a.m.

This was an interesting tale, Mary. And as a fan of latkes and curry, I hope to give this recipe a try. Good luck in the next contest!