This section is from the book "The American Woman's Cook Book", by Ruth Berolzheimer. Also available from Amazon: The Domestic Arts Edition of the American Woman's Cook Book.
Oysters, to be safe and palatable food, must be perfectly fresh. Buy them in the shells, if possible, and when purchasing them without shells be sure that the liquor is clear; if it is cloudy, the oysters should not be used.
To open an oyster, hold it firmly with the thick part of the shell toward the palm of the hand. Wash the shell thoroughly. Push a strong, thin knife between the shells near the back and run it along until it cuts the strong muscle which holds the shells together. Drop the oysters into a strainer, set over a bowl, and save the liquor that drains through to be used in cooking the oysters or making soup or sauce. Then examine each oyster and with the fingers remove all particles of shell. They are then ready to be used in any way desired.
Raw oysters are served either on the half shell packed in crushed ice, on oyster plates, or in a block of ice. Allow to each person five or six oysters and one-fourth of a lemon, and pass with the oysters crackers or thin slices of delicately buttered brown or graham bread.
30 medium oysters
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons tomato catchup
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
4 tablespoons lemon-juice 1/4 teaspoon tabasco sauce
Where oysters in the shell are obtainable, they are usually served on the half shell, on a plate of crushed ice, around a small glass holding the cocktail mixture. When it is not possible to get the oysters in the shell, cocktails may be served in ice shells made for this purpose, or in cases made from green-pepper shells, in halves of grapefruit, or in large claret glasses. Put five medium oysters into each glass and pour the dressing over them. To make the dressing, mix horseradish, tomato catchup and vinegar, lemon-juice, tabasco sauce, and salt thoroughly. Both oysters and dressing should be very cold.
1 pint large oysters 6 slices buttered toast
1/4 cup oyster-juice
Lay the oysters in a shallow dripping-pan, and pour over them a small quantity of oyster-juice, but not sufficient to raise or float them. Place the dish carefully in a hot oven (400°-425° F.) and just heat the oysters through. Be careful not to bake them. Moisten hot buttered toast with the hot juice from the oysters and serve the oysters on the toast.
24 large oysters
24 very thin slices fat bacon
Salt and pepper Parsley
Season the oysters with salt and pepper. Wrap one oyster in each slice of bacon and fasten with a toothpick. Heat a frying pan and put in the oysters. Cook on one side and then on the other just long enough to crisp the bacon, about five minutes. Cut slices of toast into quarters and place one oyster on each small slice of toast. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley.
1 pint oysters
4 tablespoons butter or other fat
Heat the oysters in their own liquor until the edges curl. Make a white sauce with the fat, flour and milk. Combine the oysters and sauce, add seasoning and serve.