The perennially popular and rightly lauded Foreign Cinema is an enchanting restaurant in San Francisco. Chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark recently released a cookbook so you can recreate some of the restaurant’s magic at home. This easy yet elegant frittata combines sweet Dungeness crab meat with mild fromage blanc (or ricotta) and tender potatoes in a fluffy egg cloud that makes a fabulous summer brunch, or even a simple supper for one or two. The method of cooking it on the stovetop to start, then moving it into the oven, helps achieve a perfect texture, and the bright tomato vinaigrette that accompanies it sets off the simultaneously rich and delicate flavors. Just add a few slices of ripe avocado and a light green salad to finish.

Game Plan: The recipe does call for 1/4 cup of roasted potatoes, so you can make some for dinner up to a few nights in advance and reserve that portion to use in the frittata. You’ll build the tomato vinaigrette from a simple homemade tomato sauce, most of which you’ll reserve for later use. Still, you’ll probably have some extra vinaigrette left over too. It’s great for dipping raw veggies, or even using as an alternative to ketchup with fries and onion rings.

Note: If you can’t find Dungeness crab, you can substitute Peekytoe crab or even cooked lobster.

Special Equipment: Since the pan will go from stovetop to oven, make sure it’s totally oven-safe; a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is a great choice.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 
  • Active: 50 min 

Ingredients (22)

For the Frittata:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roasted potatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraîche
  • 1/3 cup fresh Dungeness crabmeat
  • 3 tablespoons fromage blanc or fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 cup Tomato Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • Handful of greens, such as arugula, frisée, or mâche
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives, for garnish
  • Petals from 4 or 5 pansies, for garnish (optional)

For the Tomato Vinaigrette:

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can peeled diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)


To make the Tomato Vinaigrette:

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the red pepper flakes; cook for 10 minutes longer. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until saucy, about 25 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and cool slightly.
  2. In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup of the sauce at low speed for a few seconds. Freeze remaining tomato sauce for future use. Add the remaining 3/4 cup oil in a slow, steady stream through the pour spout as you continue to blend until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute longer, scraping down the bowl if needed. Add the vinegar, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the sugar, if using, and blend for 20 seconds longer.
  3. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature and whisk in a few drops of water before using.

To make the Frittata:

  1. Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Have ready a warm serving plate.
  2. In a 9- to 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the potatoes and warm them for 1 to 2 minutes. In a small bowl, use a fork to vigorously whisk the eggs with the salt. Add the crème fraîche, crabmeat, fromage blanc, and jalapeño. Add the egg mixture to the pan with the potatoes, stirring to evenly distribute them. Reduce the heat and cook for 1 minute on the stovetop.
  3. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the frittata puffs and is gently set, 6 to 7 minutes. The center should be supple but not completely firm when you lightly press it with your finger.
  4. Let the frittata rest for 1 minute, then carefully slide it onto the warm plate. Drizzle the tomato vinaigrette around the frittata, top with the avocado, and scatter the greens, chives, and pansy petals, if using, over the top. Cut the frittata into wedges and serve warm.

Excerpted from “The Foreign Cinema Cookbook: Recipes and Stories Under the Stars” by Gayle Pirie and John Clark. Published by Abrams, c 2018. Photography credit: Ed Anderson.