Today I’m celebrating the colorful life of Lilly Pulitzer with her recipe for Latino Shrimp and Corn Bisque. As you may know, Lilly died earlier this month at the age of 81 at her home in Palm Beach.
Lilly Pulitzer’s name is synonymous with Palm Beach and her famous colorful summer shift dress. Her life was filled with color and fun and it all started with an orange juice stand. When Lilly was 21 she eloped with Peter Pulitzer from New York City to the sun and sand of Palm Beach where Peter owned orange groves. In the shadows of Peter’s groves in 1959-ish, Lilly opened a juice stand. An heiress herself who married young into the wealthy publishing family, she designed a sleeveless shift dress from colorful printed cotton to disguise the juice stains on her clothing and Lilly Pulitzer the clothing label was born.
|Source & Shop|
Lilly’s classic shift dress shot to fame when her old schoolmate from Miss Porter’s school, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, was photographed wearing a “Lilly” while on vacation. Rose Kennedy, Jackie’s mother-in-law, also had her own beloved “Lilly” shift. After the First Lady appeared on the cover of Life magazine in 1962 wearing a “Lilly” shift dress, the brand’s popularity took off “like zingo.” To quote her obituary in the New York Times, “Lilly Pulitzer created a look that proved to be so popular it would become a mark of membership for old-money families at play for more than five decades. Her vividly flowered house dresses became known, in the shorthand of the rich, simply as Lilly’s.”
As a matter of fact, I have a couple of Lilly’s in my own wardrobe. For the ladies, let me share a little warm weather secret - shifts are so much cooler and more comfortable to wear than shorts when it’s hot. I consider them to be a staple in my summer wardrobe and believe me when I tell you I know hot because we lived in the tropics for years. Several of my favorite Lilly styles are on my Pinterest board “Fashion Looks I Love.”
Lilly is almost as well-known for her entertaining and food as she is for her fashion. She had a knack for turning the art of living well into a kind of informal elegance with an attitude of “affluence at ease.” Parties, decorating, food, and fashion have been part of her life in Palm Beach since she arrived there in the 1950’s. And she shares this in both of the delightful books, Essentially Lilly – A Guide to Colorful Entertaining and Essentially Lilly – a Guide to Colorful Holidays. Follow Lilly as she shows us how to incorporate her unique Palm Beach easy-tropical-style-of-entertaining into our daily lives all the while the celebrating the good times with our own family and friends with Lilly’s yummy-good food. Lilly’s recipe for Latino Shrimp and Corn Bisque is the recipe I’ve chosen today to celebrate her colorful life. The original recipe did not call for mussels or oysters. They are our addition and may be left out if you wish to authenticate Lilly’s original bisque. I’ve shown pictures of both ways.
Lilly Pulitzer’s Latino Shrimp and Corn Bisque with Mussels & Oysters
Adapted from Essentially Lilly – a Guide to Colorful Holidays – serves 8 as a first course or 4 for a light lunch with a salad
1 ½ pounds medium sized (26 to 30 count) shrimp with shells, preferably wild caught
3 cups bottled clam juice
2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
5 tablespoons (1/2 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small rib of celery with leaves, finely chopped
½ cup diced chopped red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of Tabasco or other hot sauce
¼ cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus additional for garnish if desired
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 to 12 freshly shucked oysters, optional
12 – 16 cleaned mussels, optional
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
Peel and devein shrimp, reserving their shells. Coarsely chop some of the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate. Bring the shrimp shells to a boil in one quart of water over high heat along with the clam juice, parsley, thyme and peppercorns. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes to blend their flavors. Strain and reserve their liquid.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, celery, red pepper and garlic, then cover and cook until the vegetables soften, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the mixture with flour and stir well to incorporate. Whisk in the reserved shrimp shell liquid, a dash of Tabasco sauce, sherry and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cook until lightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
The soup may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead and then cooled, covered and refrigerated. Reheat to simmering over low heat. Stir in reserved shrimp, corn, oysters, mussels and heavy cream and cook just until the shrimp turn opaque and mussels open, about 3 minutes. Discard any mussels that do not open, then season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a drizzle of extra cream if desired. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve hot.
This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, Foodtastic Friday at Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper, and On the Menu Monday at Stone Gable.