This section is from the book "Philadelphia Cook Book: A Manual Of Home Economies", by Sarah Tyson Heston Rorer. Also available from Amazon: Philadelphia Cook Book.
Take one dozen heavy crabs and boil, the same as lobster, for three-quarters of an hour. When done and cold, twist off the claws, take off the upper shells and remove the spongy substance on the outside. See that the under part is free from sand. Arrange them nicely on a flat dish, garnish with parsley and serve with them oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, allowing each person to dress his own.
12 nice, heavy crabs 1/2 pint of cream,
2 tablespoonfuls of flour 1/4 of a nutmeg, grated
1 tablespoonful of salt 1 tablespoonful of butter 1 tablespoonful of chopped parsley
Yolksof four hard-boiled eggs Salt and cayenne to taste Put the crabs in warm water, add the salt and put the kettle over a brisk fire. Boil thirty minutes. Take up and drain; break off all the claws, separate the shells, remove the spongy fingers, and the stomach, which is found under the head. Pick out all the meat. Put the cream on to boil; rub the butter and flour together and add to the boiling milk; stir and cook for two minutes. Take from the fire and add the crab meat, the yolks of the hard-boiled eggs mashed fine, the parsley, the nutmeg, salt and cayenne. Clean the upper shells of the crabs, fill them with the mixture, brush over with beaten egg, cover with bread crumbs and put in a quick oven to brown; or better, put them in a frying-basket and plunge into boiling fat or oil until a nice brown.
The soft shell crab is nothing more than a hard shell crab after shedding its shell. In about three days the new shell begins to harden again, which is the cause of the always-short supply.
Lift the shell and remove the spongy substance on both sides; then put your thumb nail under the point of the "apron" and pull it off. The "apron" is a small, loose shell, running to a point in the middle of the under shell. Now wipe the crabs dry; if they are at all sandy, wash them before removing anything. Do not blanch them, as it entirely destroys their fine flavor. Dip them, while alive, in beaten egg, and then in bread crumbs which have been well seasoned with salt and cayenne. Fry in boiling oil or lard for ten minutes; when done, drain a moment on soft brown paper. Put sauce Tartare in the centre of a cold, flat dish; arrange the crabs around this, garnish with parsley and lemon cut into quarters, and serve.
Clean the crabs same as above. Dust them with salt, pepper and flour. Put three tablespoonfuls of butter into a frying-pan, and when hot throw in the crabs; when brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. Serve as above.