Gnafron with Garlic Cream ~ Appetizer, Light Lunch or Dinner

I was really pleased when my talented friend Andrea from Cooking Books asked if I would like to guest author on her blog, and share one of my favorite cookbooks on her blog this month.

Do go check out Andrea's blog ~ she always has something wonderful cooking!

I was delighted to accept her invitation.

The book I chose is ~

Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties

by Peggy Knickerbocker.

Peggy divides her time between Paris and San Francisco, a woman who enjoys giving dinner parties in both places; she is a food journalist and former caterer and restaurateur.

Don’t let the title referring to “Dinner Party” recipes throw you because the recipes are not just for dinner parties. Although the book is filled with lots of helpful hints and secrets to assure your dinner party will be a memorable success, it includes dozens and dozens of recipes perfectly suitable for everyday.

In "Simple Soirees" Peggy provides 100 of her favorite recipes, organized by season. Some of the recipes are classic favorites, others are more unusual such as the one I chose to make for you.
The recipe I chose to highlight is Gnafron, an unusual and delicious dish from
Lyon, France.

Peggy explains she almost became obsessed with Gnafron after first tasting it at the restaurant Chabert et Fis, on the Rue des Marronniers in Lyon several years ago.

She and her dining companion arrived at the restaurant just before closing. When the Gnafron was described to her, she immediately ordered it; a savory flan baked in pale green leaves.

It was love at first bite; she tried to ask the chef for the recipe, but she had already departed for the evening.

After looking for over a year to discover the recipe, all she could discover was that Gnafron shared its name with a hard-drinking yet philosophical children’s puppet show character named Guignol. The puppet show was written by Laurent Mouruet in the 1880’s.

Some time later, at a party, Peggy met up with an old friend whose fiancé just happened to live blocks from the restaurant where she tasted her first Gnafron. He sent her the recipe jotted in French on a cocktail napkin.

The recipe is Peggy’s interpretation of the dish which is one of her favorites for luncheons, as well as dinners by the fire.
The method is simple, small ramekins are buttered and lined with blanched Napa cabbage leaves like so:
In the meantime a flavorful sausage mix is browned with seasonings, then drained, cooled and added to a egg and cream mixture and ladled into the prepared ramekins.
The dish can be prepared in advance up to this point ~ then baked in a bain marie (water bath) until the flan is firm to the touch.
The Gnafron can be served directly from the ramekins, with the (FABULOUS!) Garlic Cream. Even if you don't make the Gnafron ~ you must try this light cream sauce with vegetables, or simply prepared chicken or fish.

The Gnafron recipe is perfect for company as it can be either assembled ahead, then baked when the guests arrive. Alternately, it can be baked ahead and simply reheated at suppertime. But no need to wait for company.

In the book Peggy suggests as hors d’oeuvres another specialty of Lyon, a variety of sausages, served on a wooden board, along with chilled radishes, or a bowl of olives.

Then the Gnafron, followed by a crisp red and Green Salad (romaine, radicchio with a red wine vinegar vinaigrette and garnished with toasted and salted pistachios.

For dessert Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote, followed by espresso, and a dish of dark chocolate squares or other candy.

We enjoyed this Gnafron very, very much and I intend on making it again.
A local meat shop makes a delicious fresh and flavorful Chorizo sausage,
so that is the sausage I chose to use this time.

I'm thinking mushrooms could be substituted for the meat in this recipe, seasoning the mushrooms well with garlic and a favorite herb ~ making the recipe vegetarian friendly.

It is a beautiful, coffee table quality cookbook (but one that can actually be used for its recipes).

Plenty of gorgeous photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer, too.

I highly recommend this book, it's one of my favorites.

Click HERE for a printable copy of the recipe.


  1. Mary..! One St~ Patrick's day..I made little stuffed cabbages and this reminds me a bit if the look:) I hope it's on your RECIPE BLOG..I have to make this..Too pretty!

    Thank you..Hey..I am already asking you to be a guest blogger on my blog:)

  2. Mari, this is an interesting story behind an unusual dish. It also reminds me of stuffed cabbage. Chorizo would be a different twist on a classic.

  3. Hi Monique and Dragana,

    Monique... oh my dear, your blog is perfect! You don't need me messing it up. ((hugs))

    Dragana, Yes, it definitely is a "take" on stuffed cabbage. I was intrigued and interested to know how tender (or not) the savory flan would bake up being wrapped in the Napa cabbage packet. I was very happy with the results, & pleased to know that the cabbage doesn't overpower.

    If you try it, I hope you like it too. xo~m.

  4. Oh Mari - I love the look of this dish. I can see how easy it would be to change up the filling. Really intriguing! How big is your ramekin?

    I would LOVE for you to write a post for my blog. I'm so loving yours! ;)

  5. This is new book to me. The recipes sound amazing, I will have to check it out. Clarice

  6. oh i am so glad i am back tracking, this is fantastic, i am in love with this!


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