Drain the oysters and dispose in a buttered bake-dish in the following order:
In the bottom have a light layer of crushed cracker crumbs; season with paprika and salt, drop bits of butter upon them and wet with oyster liquor and milk mixed in equal quantities. Now comes a layer of oysters, similarly seasoned, next a layer of crumbs. Go on thus until the dish is full or the materials are used up. The top layer should be crumbs with a double allowance of butter. Cover closely and bake half an hour, then uncover and brown lightly.
Prepare as above, but bake in pate-pans or in shells, covering each with fine crumbs. In tide-water Virginia, notably near Williamsburg, the first capital of the state, large, fluted shells are dug up many feet below the surface, which, when cleaned, make the best possible receptacle for scalloped oysters. All who have eaten fresh oysters, just from York river, cooked in these fossil remains, will agree with me that they are incomparably savory.
Send sliced lemon around with them.
They must be large, plump and fresh. Drain well; spread upon a clean, soft towel, and cover with another, patting them gently to dry them on both sides. Roll each over and over in salted cracker-crumbs; set on the ice for an hour; dust more crumbs over them, and fry, a few at a time, in boiling hot butter, cotto-lene or other fats.
Drain, garnish with parsley and serve.
Heat a large spoonful of butter in a clean frying-pan, rub in a tablespoonful of flour, and stir to a white roux. Remove to the table. Season with salt and white pepper. Have ready pate-pans or scallop-shells arranged in a baking-pan; put three or four fine oysters in each, cover with the white sauce and cook in a quick oven about eight minutes, or until the oysters "ruffle." Serve in the shells. The white sauce should be thick, as the liquor from the oysters will thin it.
Drain in a colander one quart of oysters. Put the liquor over the fire in a saucepan, with a good tablespoonful of butter. Add half as much boiling water as you have liquor, pepper and salt to taste, and bring to a boil. As soon as this is reached, put in the drained oysters and cook quickly. When they "ruffle" - in five minutes or thereabouts - add half a cupful of milk heated in another vessel with a tiny bit of soda to prevent curdling, and half a teaspoonful of corn-starch wet with cold milk, stirred in. Pour upon the oysters, cook for one minute and dish.
Most stewed oysters are cooked into insipid toughness.
Heat the liquor from a quart of oysters to boiling. While it is growing hot put over the fire in another vessel a pint of milk. When this is heated stir into it a tablespoonful of butter rolled in as much flour. Drop the oysters into the hot liquid and let them cook until they ruffle. Pour the milk into the saucepan with the oysters, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.
This is the old-fashioned stew and is better than many more modern inventions.