A tasteful variety at table is a course of something served in shells (en coquille). The natural shells (except oyster-shells) are not as pretty as silver shells. Plated silver scallop - shells are not expensive, and are always ready. You can always serve oysters in their shells, by once purchasing fine large ones; then, by cleaning them carefully every time they are used, they will be ready to be filled for the next occasion with suitable oysters from the can. Oysters, lobsters, shrimps, or cold fish of any kind, can be served en coquille in place of fish. Chicken, or méat of any kind, should be served as an entrée. Salmon, or almost any kind of fish or shell-fish, can be served en coquille cold, with a Mayonnaise dressing, as a salad.
Boil the chickens in water or in broth; cut the meat into little dice; mix them, while hot, with a hot Bechamel sauce, or with a white sauce made with cream; sprinkle sifted bread or cracker crumbs over them; brown slightly in a hot oven. Serve immediately. Sometimes mushrooms are mixed with the chicken dice.
Cut any good fish into little scollops (having boned and skinned them) half an inch wide; fry them in a sauté pan, with a little butter, salt, and a few drops of lemon-juice; then mix them with any of the fish sauces, and put them into the shells; sprinkle over bread-crumbs (sautéd brown in a little butter), and warm them in the oven.
Cut the lobsters into scollops or pieces; mix them with the Bechamel, or cream, sauce; sprinkle over bread - crumbs, and brown slightly in the oven. Proceed in the same manner with shrimps, picking those that are mixed with the sauce, and re-serving some whole, to decorate the tops.
Cut the mushrooms, if they are too large; throw them for a few minutes into boiling water, then into cold water to whiten them; wipe well, and sauté them in a saucepan, with a little butter. When colored, and almost done, sprinkle in a little flour and a little chopped parsley; when the flour is cook-ed (which will require but a few moments), pour in, say, a tea-cupful of stock; let it all simmer for about fifteen minutes. Just before serving, stir in the beaten yolk of an egg, and a few drops of lemon-juice. The sauce should be rather thick. Fill each shell with this mixture; sprinkle a few sifted cracker-crumbs on the tops; brown them slightly with a red-hot shovel, or put them into a very hot oven a few moments just before serving.