Secret Recipe from Jimmy’s Café

CrabcakesJanuary 4, 2012

Dear Friends,

My good friend, Carla, who operated the late, great Jimmy’s Café in Cuyahoga Falls until it closed in 2008, mentioned in a phone chat last week that she had recently made a quart of Asian salad dressing from a recipe in my cookbook. She has been eating it by the spoonful, she said. And then, in a rush of typical Carla generosity, she offered to give  me the super-secret recipe for the Café’s Creamy Garlic Salad Dressing and my favorite, the corn casserole. This is the salad dressing recipe that everyone wanted – silky-smooth and slightly sweet with a garlic punch. That’s Carla for you. She  could probably get a nice chunk of change for that recipe, but instead she wants all of us to enjoy it for free. The dressing is similar to the white French dressing that was served at other restaurants in the Akron area, but just different enough that it created its own mystique.

After closing the café Carla married a great guy, Tim Bethea, and moved to Maryland. She says she would get pleasure imagining her former customers making the dressing and corn casserole and thinking of Jimmy’s. Here’s what she wrote in a note that came with the dressing:
Ok, because you are my dear friend and we both love food, here is the secret recipe for the famous Jimmy’s Cafe’ creamy garlic salad dressing. For anyone who forgot, we served it with mixed greens, mandarin oranges, chunks of pineapple, feta cheese chunks, and topped it with candied pecans. The bite from the garlic dressing and feta paired with the sweetness of the fruit made for an incredibly flavored salad that so many of our customers loved. In the summer, we would replace the oranges with fresh sliced strawberries when they were at peak sweetness.

I actually had a man offer me $500 cash to disclose the recipe! What was I thinking?? I turned him down!! Oh well, such are the secrets of our coveted recipes while we are still in business. Today, I say share it to bring smiles to a lot of faces — those who have longed to get the much-coveted and loved recipe. Here it is, just as we prepared it at Jimmy’s Café. Happy New Year!

•    1 cup sugar
•    1 cup HOT water
•    2 cups apple cider vinegar
•    1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
•    Handful of garlic cloves (about 10-12)
•    1 gallon (16 cups) real mayo

Put the sugar in measuring pitcher; add 1 cup HOT (close to boiling) water. Mix to dissolve sugar. This is the “simple syrup” for the dressing. Add the apple cider vinegar to the simple syrup.

Place onion and garlic in a food processor, add at least 1 cup (plus a splash more) of the syrup=vinegar mixture and blend until smooth.  Place mayo in a big bowl.  Add garlic and onion mixture and the remaining syrup mixture.  Mix with a hand mixer, being sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula while mixing to get all the mayo.

P.S.: I have no idea on the shelf life of this as we went through so much of it we made it daily. Enjoy! I miss Jimmy’s Cafe’ and I’m grateful to share this delicious recipe with you.

The corn casserole that we made at Jimmy’s was an old recipe from my Aunt Dovie that we ate at our holiday table for years.  The best-tasting side dish ever and so very easy to make!  I had customers order this warm in the mornings with their coffee and they would drizzle maple syrup over it. To this day it is still a favorite of mine.

•    3 cups corn muffin mix
•    3 cups whole kernel corn
•    3 cups creamed corn
•    2 sticks butter, melted
•    2 cups sour cream

Mix all of the above and fill a greased, 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. The top will begin to lightly brown. Don’t overdo.
Note from Jane: Because of the high vinegar content, the dressing will keep for weeks if not months in the refrigerator. You won’t have to worry about that with the corn casserole.

P.S.: I miss Jimmy’s, too. Thanks for sharing these treasures from the restaurant.


Quinoa, the relatively healthful, high-protein grain, is a decent substitute for rice in all kinds of dishes. For a more nutritious version of fried rice, cook one cup of quinoa in 1 1/2 cups water until al dente (about 15 minutes at a simmer), then drain and refresh with cold water to halt the cooking. Stir-fry chopped green onions, a couple of handfuls of other chopped veggies and lean meat (pork loin) or shrimp in canola oil. Add the cooked quinoa, a drizzle of Asian sesame oil and three tablespoons of soy sauce and mix well. For added protein, create a clear space in the center of the veggies and quinoa and gently scramble an egg or two egg whites, then mix through the stir fried quinoa. Mmmm.


From Michele Bowman: 
My grandmother used to make a stew that she called “potpie”.  It had ham, potatoes and homemade noodles.  The noodles were thicker than most and often cut in a diamond shape.  We have never been able to duplicate it and she never really had a recipe.  The biggest obstacle has been the noodles.  I wondered if you or any of your readers had ever heard of anything like this.  Since I have a ham bone from Christmas dinner, I thought I’d give it another try.

Dear Michele: I remember watching my grandmother roll out the dough for those diamond-shaped noodles, and drop them one by one into the bubbling broth. I grew up on ham pot pie. It’s a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty.  For the uninitiated, it is nothing like a regular pot pie. It is a brothy potful of ham stock, cubed ham, sliced potatoes and large, square-ish noodles. I like the explanation for the name that I found at It’s a pot pie with the crust IN the filling instead of outside the filling.

My grandmother never used a recipe for the noodles, either. She just stirred water into flour until the dough felt right. At the above site, which has an easy-to-follow recipe with pictures of each step, the ratio is one-fourth cup water to one cup flour. The dough is rolled out 1/8 to ¼-inch thick and cut into about 2-inch squares with a pizza cutter. That’s a technique I’m sure our grandmothers never thought of.

From Tom:  
I have been attempting to read “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, M.D.  But my knowledge of biochemistry was lost to the ages long ago. I have found that Dr. Davis recommends avoiding gluten entirely.  I have what is described as a “wheat belly”.  I eat as healthy as I can and have been attempting to lose weight as well.  However, my attempts result in a bit of frustration.

The wife and I have turned to a bread maker and have been using Bob’s Red Mill gluten free products, which are quite good. We have found tons of recipes for baking and nearly all call for wheat flour.  My question, then, is …Is there any other kind of flour that can be substituted for wheat flour?

Dear Tom: You can’t just substitute  potato flour, rice flour or whatever for wheat flour in regular bread recipes. You must search out recipes developed specifically for these other flours. Gluten-free currently is a hot topic, so quite a few cookbooks have been published lately. I don’t bake gluten-free so can’t recommend one, but maybe another reader can. Also, I’ve seen mixes for gluten-free breads as well as ready-made gluten-free breads in health- and natural-foods stores.

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