“Cooking is not a particularly difficult art, and the more you cook and learn about cooking, the more sense it makes. But like any art it requires practice and experience. The most important ingredient you can bring to it is love of cooking for its own sake.”
-Julia Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Of course I admire her food but it’s Julia Child’s presence in the kitchen and life that inspire me most. With grace and humility Julia danced around the stove fancifully with an obvious passion for what she was cooking. There is no hiding the inevitable mistakes and flops that happen when cooking and yet she reiterated that it’s what you do with those little mishaps that make a great cook. Never apologizing for them she moved on accepting the little slip up while not letting it affect the rest of the dish or her confidence.

I don’t claim to be a Julia expert but I am inspired by the image of her in my head that I’ve pieced together through my years of seeing her on TV, reading her books, cooking a bit of her food and learning about her career.

Julia’s passion for food and the career that was formed around that started later in life and was fueled by her genuine love of eating and cooking rather than a desire to be known. Julia’s excitement about food and life around food was and continues to be infectious. I can’t help but want to jump into my kitchen and start cooking every time I read her recipes, her words or watch her saute´ and roast on tv. As a young girl I eagerly sat in front of the tv while watching her baking series on PBS where she brought in dozens of talented bakers to join her in the kitchen. As the chefs were slicing, stirring, whipping and mixing a towering Julia stood at their side dipping her finger into everything in sight. Her passion outweighed her desire to keep up appearances as she couldn’t help but taste the food in all its various stages.

Julia continues to give me confidence in my own kitchen and inspires me to reach beyond my comfort which inturn makes me stronger and wiser. Most recently it was Julia who nudged me to step into the world of pates. In the last several years I’ve shed my childish disdain for the various animal parts that often make up pates. I now frequently order them in restaurants and speak about this as passionately as Julia would. But it wasn’t until last week when Julia held my hand in the kitchen, that I made my first Chicken Liver Mousse.

Throughout the entire process I was beaming with pride feeling as if I was crossing off an item on the imaginary culinary “must make” list. It’s not that the process was a challenge it’s just that I had deemed chicken liver mousse as food to order at a restaurant instead of making at home and didn’t believe I could create the mousse that I fawn over that is made by accomplished chefs.

That is exactly what an inspiring person does. They cause you to see things differently, give you the confidence that you need and push you to actually make it happen. They hold your hand up to a point then push you when you’re ready. In the end you walk away more courageous and more sure of yourself then before. And as with my case, you walk away with a buttery rich and lightly spiced pot of Chicken Liver Mousse topped with a sleek shiny cap of aspic and feeling even more grateful for the inspiring life of Julia Child.



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Chicken Liver Mousse

adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
makes about 2 cups

I served my mousse with cornichons, grainy mustard, pickled cherries , fennel and assorted crackers.

2 c. (about 1 lb) chicken livers
2 tbsp. minced shallots
2 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. cognac
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. chopped, fresh thyme
1/2 c. melted unsalted butter
Kosher salt and pepper

Remove any greenish or blackish spots from the livers then cut into 1/2″ pieces.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a sauté pan until foam has subsided. Sauté livers with the shallots in butter for 2 to 3 minutes, until the livers are just stiffened, but still rosy inside. Remove any liquid then scrape into the blender jar.
Pour the cognac into the pan and boil it down rapidly until it has reduced to 3 tablespoons. Scrape it into the blender jar.
Add the cream and seasonings to the blender jar. Cover and blend at top speed for several seconds until the liver is a smooth paste.
Add the melted butter and blend several seconds more. Adjust seasoning.
Push the mousse through a fine sieve to remove any unwanted little bits.
Pack into the bowl or jar and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

Cognac Aspic
adapted from Smith & Ratliff

1/2 c. water, separated
1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. dry vermouth
2 tsp. cognac

Place 1/4 c. of cool water in a ramekin, sprinkle unflavored gelatin and let it stand for 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan heat vermouth and sugar over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
Heat the remaining ¼ cup of water and add to softened gelatin. Stir to dissolve. Add the gelatin mixture to the warm wine mixture and mix thoroughly.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add cognac. Let the warm mixture stand until it almost reaches room temperature.
Once it has cooled, pour over chilled mousse. Return the mousse to the fridge and chill until the gelée has set, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
If you wish to garnish the mousse with fresh herbs or herb blossoms gently press them into the mousse before topping with the aspic.

To learn more about Julia’s life read the new biography Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

44 Responses to “Julia’s Chicken Liver Mousse”

  1. la domestique

    I just conquered chicken liver mousse a few months ago, and after all the intimidation it was no trouble to make, plus it tasted divine. Your chicken liver mousse looks so good- Julia would be proud!

  2. nicole @eatthispoem

    I haven’t been quite as adventurous in the pate department, but of all the people to be inspired by, Julia would be it. I’ll tuck this one away for a rainy day.

  3. Amanda

    You so wonderfully put into words the inspiration that Julia brings to many of us! I’ll certainly be celebrating her birthday tomorrow- I’m thinking about the classic boeuf bourguignon!

  4. gigi

    recently read an article about her and the newest book on her life “dearie” in the food network magazine. so interesting. she was truly an inspiring individual in her cooking!

  5. Rachel

    I feel as though not knowing what this is, I may enjoy it–but I still have yet to shed my negative feelings for the “stranger” parts of the animals we normally consume. I wish to be more adventurous in the kitchen and my palette, but feel as if it is something that will come with time, and is not to be rushed. I think Julia Child is a major inspiration for all aspiring chefs/foodies/food-loving humans, just as Van Gogh is for aspiring artists. The respect I have for her in the kitchen is untouchable. Thank you for sharing, as always.

  6. ginger and scotch

    Your words resonated with me (“I had deemed chicken liver mousse as food to order at a restaurant instead of making at home and didn’t believe I could create the mousse that I fawn over that is made by accomplished chefs”) as I felt the same way the day I made Nigel Slater’s chicken liver pate (similar recipe but uses clarified butter instead of Aspic) many years ago. I couldn’t believe how simple it was to whip up! Of course, that first time seemed to take me forever and everything was so new and intimidating.

  7. Agi

    Love chicken liver mousse and this looks so easy, will be trying it. Really nice pictures, wish I had some right now!

  8. DeAnn @ The SIP

    She is back on PBS now 🙂 My sister’s dad lived by Julia for several years and got to cook with her…crazy! He is an amazing cook too he was a southern cook, he made the best barbque shrimp! Her life is an inspiration, her relationship with her husband was also hugely inspirig. My MIL was just saying how she used to eat liver growing up and misses it, this would be so fun to make her.

  9. fabiola@notjustbaked

    I truly admire this. The thoughts alone make this amazing. Julia’s laugh and love in the kitchen are the things that make me smile. Super cool I will have to try this one on my own as well. Thanks!

  10. Jen @ Savory Simple

    I wrote about Julia today as well. ‘My Life in France’ inspired me to change my life and I can never properly express how grateful I am to her. I love chicken liver mousse and hers is the best!

  11. Kelly Enciso

    I admit, I am not big on cooking. In the past I have found that I don’t enjoy it and it just feels like work. However, Julia Child, and also reading blogs like yours, have helped to change that. Once my daughter was born I realized that I needed to start cooking… whether I liked it or not, because eating out too often is not healthy or economical, in most cases. I love the quote you gave from Julia Child… love is the bset ingredient, and I am learning to slowly learn to love it. Thank you for the beautiful pictures!

  12. heather

    my mom used to force feed us liver when we were kids. because of that negative experience i have never met a liver that i found appetizing. your pictures are so lush and beautiful my mouth watered and i thought yum 🙂

  13. Piper

    My Mom used to make this all the time, and while I am not usually a liver fan, I do like this! I’ve been banned from sharing her recipe on my blog, but it does make my husband gloriously happy when I make this for him. Does anyone else feel squeamish when blending up a liver milkshake??? Sometimes I feel ICK… but it’s worth it.
    I will give you one hint though, if you can’t do the aspic topping, melted clarified butter is good too!

  14. Jean | Delightful Repast

    At this stage of life I’m quite comfortable with my “childish disdain” for organ meats! 😀 But if ever I decided to shed it and make pate, I would turn to Julia. She was a grand lady and the same in person as on television. I was privileged to have a slight acquaintance with her during the last years of her life. I met her shortly before she moved out of the Cambridge house and chatted with her at several occasions. Even when she relied on a walker, she radiated such vitality and zest for life.

  15. Chloe

    It’s wild how many of us watched Julia cook when we were little. She’s just so inviting and wonderful to watch. It’s so lovely to see so many writers paying homage to her.

  16. Ana

    Funnily enough and quite the opposite to most people, I grew up on pates – in my home we called it pashteta (the Croatian word for pate). It was a common lunch time option for us, with thick crusty bread and something pickled. While I continue to enjoy pates on a regular basis, I have yet to make it myself. Your post has inspired me to finally get going on it. Beautiful job!

  17. sandra

    well, i’m sure it’s a sin, but i didn’t have cognac and wasn’t going out for any so i used a dry white wine instead. there’s not a moment that isn’t divine with this mousse on my palate. i had little to no interest in experimenting with organ meats until i needed to increase my dangerously low iron levels. a mixed blessing. thank you for posting Julia Child’s classic, fail-proof recipe. it’s heaven!

  18. Anne

    Just finished preparing as i love this as a Christmas appetizer. It was easy and delicious!Of course everything Julia made was delicious.

  19. Soe

    I had my first pate last year from Dean and Deluca, and have been hooked ever since. I will definitely give this recipe a try.

  20. Sue Egan

    I thought that sometimes chicken livers can be blended with hard boiled egg. Has anyone heard of this idea?


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