Souvenir de Julia

June with Julia ChildBoston was the host city for the 1989 IACP Annual Conference. When we were planning the kick-off media event (held in September 1988), Julia said she would be happy to host it at her home if the Boston IACP members would agree to cater the party.  I had recently developed this recipe for Scallop Mousse, and decided it would be my contribution.

The party took place on a warm September evening. Everyone gathered at the Child’s home, a white clapboard house not far from the Harvard campus in Cambridge, MA. Paul greeted the arriving guests looking dapper in a tweed sports jacket with paisley ascot. A server stood nearby offering flutes of Champagne.  We “caterers” took our dishes to the (now famous) kitchen to be plated and arranged by other committee members on tables in both the dining room and another room on the main floor. I remember standing off to the side in the dining room with some colleagues as Julia ushered in George Berkowitz, the owner of Legal Seafood (Boston’s famous seafood chain). George exclaimed, “Wow, what a spread! I don’t know where to start.” Imagine how pleased I was to hear Julia respond, “I think you should have some of this delicious Scallop Mousse,” as she guided him over to its place on the table.

I think about Julia’s compliment every time I make and serve this appetizer. It’s one of my favorite Julia stories.

And here, for your enjoyment, is the recipe:

Scallop Mousse with Fresh Basil

makes 4 to 6 plated first course servings — about 20 “baby” scallops for passed hors d’oeuvre (or you can fill one copper scallop shell for a stationary selection on a cocktail buffet)

1 1/4 pounds scallops (may be sea, bay or cape scallops), poached and cooled
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 large shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 envelope unflavored gelatin, dissolved in 1/4 cup dry French Vermouth (I use Dolin)
3/4 cup homemade mayonnaise made with fresh lime juice
2/3 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
A few grinds of fresh white pepper
6 drops hot pepper sauce

1.         In the food processor fitted with the metal blade, chop the basil fine.  Remove and set aside.

2.         With the motor running, drop the chives and shallot through the feed tube, and process until very finely chopped.  Add mayonnaise and pulse three times to mix.  Now add all the ingredients except the basil and the gelatin mixture, and pulse five or six times to incorporate well, then process until smooth.

3.         Add basil and gelatin mixture, and pulse several times, to blend thoroughly.

4.         Pour or spoon mixture into the prepared mold(s) you have chosen.  [I use standard Madeleine pans for plated first course, miniature Madeleine pans for the really tiny scallops that fit on crackers.]

5.         Chill until firm, about 1 1/2 hours minimum for the large mold.  (The “babies” take almost no time to set up.)

6.         Unmold onto appropriate serving dish, and garnish with fresh basil leaves or sprigs.  (I like to serve the “babies” on a Bremner wafer, on top of a small basil leaf.)

Wine Tip:         The wine that consistently complements this mousse to perfection is Vision Cellars’ California White – a juicy blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. If you’d like a sparkler, I’d choose Iron Horse’s Wedding Cuvée, my favorite domestic bubbly.


  1. John G, July 27, 2012:

    Looks gorgeous, and one of my favorite foods – even as a newly-established veggie person, I know I would gobble this up!

  2. Jean Denham, July 28, 2012:

    Lookin’ good, Lady – the mousse sounds especially tasty!! Will add to a party menu.

  3. Ruth Alegria, August 5, 2012:

    Happy Birthday Julia! and thank you June for sharing with us a memory of Julia.

    The recipe is of a course a super bonus …. Looks great!

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