Message Area
lblHidCurrentSponsorAdIndex =

  < Back to Table Of Contents  < Back to Topic: Blue Collar Recipes and Cooking Methods

article number 420
article date 02-10-2015
copyright 2015 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Your Shell-Fish and Oyster Recipes of 1881
by Maria Parloa, Principle, School of Cooking, Boston

From the 1881 book, Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book and Marketing Guide.

EDITORS NOTE: This article is decorated with drawings from the “Kitchen Furnishing” chapter.


○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

On the Half Shell.

Not until just before serving should they be opened. Market-men often furnish some one to do this. Six large oysters are usually allowed each person. Left in half the shell, they are placed on a dinner plate, with a thin slice of lemon in the centre of the dish.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

On a Block of Ice.

Having a perfectly clear and solid block of ice, weighing ten or fifteen pounds, a cavity is to be made in the top of it in either of two ways. The first is to carefully chip with an ice pick; the other, to melt with heated bricks.

If the latter be chosen the ice must be put into a tub or large pan, and one of the bricks held upon the centre of it until there is a slight depression, yet sufficient for the brick to rest in.

When the first brick is cold remove it, tip the block on one side, to let off the water, and then use another brick. Continue the operation till the cavity will hold as many oysters as are to be served. These should be kept an hour previous in a cool place; should be drained in a colander, and seasoned with salt, pepper and vinegar.

After laying two folded napkins on a large platter, to prevent the block from slipping, cover the dish with parsley, so that only the ice is visible. Stick a number of pinks, or of any small, bright flowers that do not wilt rapidly, into the parsley.

Pour oysters into the space in the top of the ice, and garnish with thin slices of lemon.

This gives an elegant dish, and does away with the unsightly shells in which raw oysters are usually served.

It is not expensive, for the common oysters do as well as those of good size. Indeed, as many ladies dislike the large ones, here is an excellent substitute for serving in the shell, particularly as the oysters require no seasoning when once on the table.

A quart is enough for a party of ten; but a block of the size given will hold two quarts.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Roasted Oysters on Toast.

- eighteen large oysters, or thirty small ones,
- one teaspoonful of flour,
- one table-spoonful of butter,
- salt,
- pepper,
- three slices of toast.

Have the toast buttered and on a hot dish. Put the butter in a small sauce-pan, and when hot, add the dry flour. Stir until smooth, but not brown; then add the cream, and let it boil up once.

Put the oysters (in their own liquor) into a hot oven, for three minutes; then add them to the cream. Season, and pour over the toast. Garnish the dish with thin slices of lemon, and serve very hot. It is nice for lunch or tea.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Oysters Panned in their Own Liquor.

- eighteen large,
- or thirty small,
- oysters,
- one table-spoonful of butter,
- one of cracker crumbs,
- salt and pepper to taste,
- one teaspoonful of lemon juice,
- a speck of cayenne.

Put the oysters on in their own liquor, and when they boil up, add seasoning, butter and crumbs. Cook one minute, and serve on toast.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Oysters Panned in the Shell.

Wash the shells and wipe dry. Place them in a pan with the round shell down.

Set in a hot oven for three minutes; then take out, and remove the upper shell.

Put two or three oysters into one of the round shells, season with pepper and salt, add butter, the size of two peas, and cover with cracker or bread crumbs.

Return to the oven and brown.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Oyster Saute.

- two dozen large, or three dozen small, oysters,
- two tablespoonfuls of butter,
- four of fine cracker crumbs,
- salt,
- pepper.

Let the oysters drain in the colander. Then season with salt and pepper and roll in the crumbs. Have the butter very hot in a frying-pan, and put in enough of the oysters to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry crisp and brown, being careful not to burn. Serve on hot, crisp toast.


○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Oysters Roasted in the Shell.

Wash the shells clean, and wipe dry. Place in a baking pan, and put in a hot oven for about twenty minutes. Serve on hot dishes the moment they are taken from the oven.

Though this is not an elegant dish, many people enjoy it, as the first and best flavor of the oysters is retained in this manner of cooking.

The oysters can, instead, be opened into a hot dish and seasoned with butter, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

They should be served immediately.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Little Pigs in Blankets.

Season large oysters with salt and pepper. Cut fat English bacon in very thin slices, wrap an oyster in each slice, and fasten with a little wooden skewer (toothpicks are the best things).

Heat a frying-pan and put in the “little pigs.” Cook just long enough to crisp the bacon—about two minutes.

Place on slices of toast that have been cut into small pieces, and serve immediately. Do not remove the skewers. This is a nice relish for lunch or tea; and, garnished with parsley, is a pretty one.

The pan must be very hot before the “pigs” are put in, and then great care must be taken that they do not burn.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Fricasseed Oysters.

- one hundred oysters (about two quarts),
- four large tablespoonfuls of butter,
- one teaspoonful of chopped parsley,
- one table-spoonful of flour,
- a speck of cayenne,
- salt,
- yolks of three eggs.

Brown two table-spoonfuls of the butter, and add to it the parsley, cayenne and salt and the oysters, well drained.

Mix together the flour and the remainder of the butter, and stir into the oysters when they begin to curl. Then add yolks, well beaten, and take immediately from the fire.

Serve on a hot dish with a garnish of fried bread and parsley.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Creamed Oysters.

- a pint of cream,
- one quart of oysters,
- a small piece of onion,
- a very small piece of mace,
- a table-spoonful of flour,
- and salt and pepper to taste.

Let the cream, with the onion and mace, come to a boil. Mix flour with a little cold milk or cream, and stir into the boiling cream.

Let the oysters come to a boil in their own liquor, and skim carefully. Drain off all the liquor, and turn the oysters into the cream.

Skim out the mace and onions, and serve.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Croustade of Oysters.

Have a loaf of bread baked in a round two-quart basin. When two or three days old, with a sharp knife cut out the heart of the bread, being careful not to break the crust.

Break up the crumbs very fine, and dry them slowly in an oven; then quickly fry three cupfuls of them in two tablespoonfuls of butter. As soon as they begin to look golden and are crisp, they are done. It takes about two minutes over a hot fire, stirring all the time.

Put one quart of cream to boil, and when it boils, stir in three table-spoonfuls of flour, which has been mixed with half a cupful of cold milk. Cook eight minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.

Put a layer of the sauce into the croustade, then a layer of oysters, which dredge well with salt and pepper; then another layer of sauce and one of fried crumbs. Continue this until the croustade is nearly full, having the last layer a thick one of crumbs.

It takes three pints of oysters for this dish, and about three teaspoonfuls of salt and half a teaspoonful of pepper.

Bake slowly half an hour. Serve with a garnish of parsley around the dish.


○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Escalopod Oysters.

- two quarts of oysters,
- half a cupful of butter,
- half a cupful of cream or milk,
- four teaspoonfuls of salt,
- half a teaspoonful of pepper,
- two quarts of stale bread crumbs,
- and spice, if you choose.

Butter the escalop dishes, and put in a layer of crumbs and then one of oysters. Dredge with the salt and pepper, and put small pieces of butter here and there in the dish.

Now have another layer of oysters, seasoning as before; then add the milk, and, finally, a thick layer of crumbs, which dot with butter.

Bake twenty minutes in a rather quick oven. The crumbs must be light and flakey.

The quantity given above is enough to fill two dishes.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Escaloped Oysters, No. 2.

Put a layer of rolled crackers in an oval dish, and then a layer of oysters, and lay on small pieces of butter. Dredge with salt and pepper, and moisten well with milk (or equal parts of milk and water).

Add another layer of cracker and of oysters, and butter, dredge and moisten as before. Continue these alternate layers until the dish is nearly full; then cover with a thin layer of cracker and pieces of butter.

If the dish be a large one, holding about two quarts, it will require an hour and a half or two hours to bake.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Oysters Served in Escalop Shells.

The shells may be tin, granite-ware, or silver-plated, or, the natural oyster or scollop shells.

- The ingredients are:
- one quart of oysters,
- haIf a pint of cream or milk,
- one pint of bread crumbs,
- one table-spoonful of butter, if cream is used, or three, if milk;
- salt and pepper,
- a grating of nutmeg and
- two table-spoonfuls or flour.

Drain all the liquor from the oysters into a stew-pan.

Let it come to a boil, and skim; then add the cream or milk, with which the flour should first be mixed. Let this boil two minutes, and add the butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg, and then the oysters.

Take from the fire immediately. Taste to see if seasoned enough.

Have the shells buttered, and sprinkled lightly with crumbs. Nearly fill them with the prepared oysters; then cover thickly with crumbs.

Put the shells in a baking-pan, and bake fifteen minutes. Serve very hot, on a large platter, which garnish with parsley. The quantity given above will fill twelve common-sized shells.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Oyster Chartreuse.

- one quart of oysters,
- one pint of cream,
- one small slice of onion,
- half a cupful of milk,
- whites of four eggs,
- two tablespoonfuls of butter,
- salt,
- pepper,
- two table-spoonfuls of flour,
- one cupful of fine,
- dry bread crumbs,
- six potatoes.

Pare and boil the potatoes. Mash fine and light, and add the milk, salt, pepper, one spoonful of butter, and then the whites of the eggs, beaten to a stiff froth.

Have a two-quart charlotte russe mould well buttered, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with the bread crumbs (there must be butter enough to hold the crumbs). Line the mould with the potato, and let stand for a few minutes.

Put the cream and onion on to boil. Mix the flour with a little cold milk or cream — about one-fourth of a cupful — and stir into the boiling cream. Season well with salt and pepper, and cook eight minutes.

Let the oysters come to a boil in their own liquor. Skim them, and drain of all the juice. Take the piece of onion from the sauce, and add the oysters. Taste to see if seasoned enough, and turn gently into the mould.

Cover with the remainder of the potato, being careful not to put on too much at once, as in that case the sauce would be forced to the top. When covered, bake half an hour in a hot oven.

Take from the oven ten minutes before dishing time, and let it stand on the table. Place a large platter over the mould and turn both dish and mould at the same time.

Remove the mould very gently. Garnish the dish with parsley, and serve. A word of caution: Every part of the mould must have a thick coating of the mashed potato, and when the covering of potato is put on, no opening must be left for sauce to escape.


○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

To Pickle Oysters.

- two hundred large oysters,
- half a pint of vinegar,
- half a pint of white wine,
- four spoonfuls of salt,
- six spoonfuls of whole black pepper and a little mace.

Strain the liquor, and add the above-named ingredients. Let boil up once, and pour, while boiling hot, over the oysters. After these have stood ten minutes pour off the liquor, which, as well as the oysters, should then be allowed to get cold. Put into a jar and cover tight. The oysters will keep some time.


Lobster, to be eatable, should be perfectly fresh. One of the tests of freshness is to draw back the tail, for if it springs into position again, it is safe to think the fish good.

The time of boiling varies with the size of the lobster and in different localities. In Boston, Rockport and other places on the Massachusetts coast, the time is fifteen or twenty minutes for large lobsters and ten for small. The usual way is to plunge them into boiling water enough to cover, and to continue boiling them until they are done.

Some people advocate putting the lobsters into cold water, and letting this come to a boil gradually. They claim that the lobsters do not suffer so much. This may be so, but it seems as if death must instantly follow the plunge into boiling water.

Cooking a lobster too long makes it tough and dry. When, on opening a lobster, you find the meat clinging to the shell, and very much shrunken, you may be sure the time of boiling was too long.

There are very few modes of cooking lobster in which it should be more than thoroughly heated, as much cooking toughens it and destroys the fine, delicate flavor of the meat.


Separate the tail from the body, and shake out the tom-ally, and, also, the “coral,” if there is any, upon a plate. Then by drawing the body from the shell with the thumb, and pressing the part near the head against the shell with the first and second finger, you will free it from the stomach or “lady.”

Now split the lobster through the centre and, with a fork, pick the meat from the joints. Cut the under side of the tail shell open and take out the meat without breaking.

On the upper part of that end of this meat which joined the body is a small piece of flesh, which should be lifted; and a strip of meat attached to it should be turned back to the extreme end of the tail.

This will uncover a little vein, running the entire length, which must be removed. Sometimes this vein is dark, and sometimes as light as the meat itself. It and the stomach are the only parts not eatable.

The piece that covered the vein should be turned again into place. Hold the claws on edge on a thick board, and strike hard with a hammer until the shell cracks. Draw apart, and take out the meat.

If you have the claws lying flat on the board when you strike, you not only break the shell, but mash the meat, and thus spoil a fine dish.

Remember that the stomach of the lobster is found near the head, and is a small, hard sack containing poisonous matter; and that the intestinal vein is found in the tail. These should always be carefully removed.

When lobster is opened in the manner explained it may be arranged handsomely on a dish, and each person can season it at the table to suit himself.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Lobster Broiled in the Shell.

Divide the tail into two parts, cutting lengthwise. Break the large claws in two parts, and free the body from the small claws and stomach. Replace the body in the shell.

Put the meat from the claws in half of the shells it came from, and put the other half of the shells where they will get hot.

Put the lobster into the double broiler, and cook, with the meat side exposed to the fire, for eight minutes; then turn, and cook ten minutes longer.

Place on a hot dish, and season slightly with salt and cayenne, and then well with maitre d’ hotel butter. Cover the claws with the hot shells. Garnish the dish with parsley, and serve.


○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Broiled Lobster.

Split the meat of the tail and claws, and season well with salt and pepper. Cover with soft butter and dredge with flour. Place in the broiler, and cook over a bright fire until a delicate brown. Arrange on a hot dish, pour Bechamel sauce around, and serve.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Breaded Lobster.

Split the meat of the tail and claws, and season well with salt and pepper. Dip in beaten egg and then in bread crumbs, which let dry on the meat; and then repeat the operation.

Place in a frying-basket, and plunge into boiling fat. Cook till a golden brown—about two minutes. Serve with Tartare sauce.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Stewed Lobster.

- the meat of a two and a half pound lobster, cut into dice;
- two table-spoonfuls of butter,
- two of flour,
- one pint of stock or water,
- a speck of cayenne,
- salt and pepper to taste.

Let the butter get hot, and add the dry flour. Stir until perfectly smooth, when add the water, gradually, stirring all the while. Season to taste.

Add the lobster; heat thoroughly, and serve.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Curry of Lobster.

- the meat of a lobster weighing between two and three pounds,
- one very small onion,
- three table-spoonfuls of butter,
- two of flour,
- a scant table-spoonful of curry powder,
- a speck of cayenne,
- salt,
- a scant pint of water or stock.

Let the butter get hot; and then add the onion, cut fine, and fry brown. When the onion is cooked add the flour and curry powder, and stir all together for two minutes.

Add stock; cook two minutes, and strain.

Add the meat of lobster, cut into dice, and simmer five minutes. Serve with a border of boiled rice around the dish.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Devilled Lobster in the Shell.

- two lobsters, each weighing about two and a half pounds;
- one pint of cream,
- two table-spoonfuls of butter,
- two of flour,
- one of mustard,
- a speck of cayenne,
- salt,
- pepper,
- a scant pint of bread crumbs.

Open the lobster and, with a sharp knife, cut the meat rather fine. Be careful, in opening, not to break the body or tail shells.

Wash these shells and wipe dry; join them in the form of a boat, that they may hold the prepared meat.

Put the cream on to boil. Mix the butter, flour, mustard and pepper together, and add three spoonfuls of the boiling cream.

Stir all into the remaining cream, and cook two minutes. Add the lobster, salt and pepper, and boil one minute.

Fill the shells with the mixture, and place in a pan, with something to keep them in position (a few small stones answer very well). Cover with the bread crumbs, and brown for twenty minutes in a hot oven.

Serve on a long, narrow dish; the body in the centre, the tails at either end. Garnish with parsley.

If for a large company, it would be best to have a broad dish, and have four lobsters, instead of two. This is a very handsome dish, and is really not hard to cook. There is always a little more of the prepared lobster than will go into the shells without crowding, and this is nice warmed and served on slices of crisp toast.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Escaloped Lobster.

Prepare the lobster as for devilling, omitting, however, the mustard. Turn into a buttered escollop dish, and cover thickly with crumbs. Brown in a hot oven, and serve.

White stock may be used instead of the cream. Many people who cannot eat lobster when prepared with cream or milk, find it palatable when prepared with stock or water.


○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Lobster Cutlets.

- a lobster weighing between two and a half and three pounds,
- three table-spoonfuls of butter,
- half a cupful of stock or cream,
- one heaping table-spoonful of flour,
- a speck of cayenne,
- salt,
- two eggs,
- about a pint of bread crumbs,
- twelve sprigs of parsley.

Cut the meat of the lobster into fine dice, and season with salt and pepper. Put the butter on to heat. Add the flour, and when smooth, add the stock and one well-beaten egg. Season.

Boil up once, add the lobster, and take from the fire immediately. Now add a table-spoonful of lemon juice. Butter a platter, and pour the mixture upon it, to the thickness of about an inch. Make perfectly smooth with a knife, and set away to cool.

When cool, cut into chops, to resemble cutlets. Dip in beaten egg and then in bread crumbs, being sure to have every part covered.

Place in the frying-basket and plunge into boiling fat. Cook till a rich brown. It will take about two minutes.

Drain for a moment in the basket; then arrange on a hot dish, and put part of a small claw in each one, to represent the bone in a cutlet.

Put the parsley in the basket, and plunge for a moment into the boiling fat. Garnish with this, or, pour a white or Bechamel sauce around the dish, and garnish with fresh parsley.

The quantity given will make six or seven cutlets.

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Canned Lobster.

Canned lobster can be used for cutlets, stews, curries and patties, can be escaloped, or served on toast.


○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Stewed Terrapins.

Put them into boiling water, and boil rapidly for ten or fifteen minutes, or until the nails will come out and the black skin rub off—the time depending upon the size of the fish.

After this, put into fresh boiling water, and boil until the under shell cracks, which will be about three-quarters of an hour.

Remove the under shell, throw away the sand and gall bags, take out intestines, and put the terrapins to boil again in the same water for an hour.

Pick liver and meat from upper shell. Cut the intestines in small pieces, and add to this meat.

Pour over all a quantity of the liquor in which the intestines were boiled sufficient to make very moist. Put away until the next day.

For each terrapin, if of good size, a gill of cream and of wine, half a cupful of butter, yolks of two hard-boiled eggs, rubbed smooth, salt, pepper and cayenne are needed.

Pour over the terrapin, let it come to a boil, and serve.—[Mrs. Furness, of Philadelphia.]

○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○

Soft-Shell Crabs.

Lift the shell at both sides and remove the spongy substance found on the back. Then pull off the “apron,” which will be found on the under side, and to which is attached a substance like that removed from the back.

Now wipe the crabs, and dip them in beaten egg, and then in fine bread or cracker crumbs. Fry in boiling fat from eight to ten minutes, the time depending upon the size of the crabs. Serve with Tartare sauce. Or, the egg and bread crumbs may be omitted. Season with salt and cayenne, and fry as before.

When broiled, crabs are cleaned, and seasoned with salt and cayenne; are then dropped into boiling water for one minute, taken up, and broiled over a hot fire for eight minutes. They are served with maitre d’ hotel butter or Tartare sauce.

< Back to Top of Page