Boarding House Blues

Recipes: Past & Present - Creamed Oysters

3 January 2024

Food is one of my passions. Cooking perhaps even more than eating. I collect cookbooks and read them for fun. I have a separate Kindle just for e-cookbooks. You get the picture.

Recipes from 1920 looked — and probably tasted — a lot different than today. Judging from old cookbooks, many, if not most, recipes were short and simple. Escoffier (1846-1935) was dishing up "Gourmet" food at his restaurants ( Le Petit Moulin Rouge, Le Restaurant Francais, Le Faisan d'Or), but not many could afford to eat there. Every day fare was far plainer and things like pre-made pie crust or frozen, cut string beans were not available.

Creamed Oysters (1921)

Melt a lump of butter the size of a walnut in a saucepan. Stir in one tablespoon of flour. Let this cook, but not brown, then add one large cup of cream, a dash of cayenne, salt and pepper. This is for three dozen large oysters or a hundred small ones. Add oysters to well-cooked cream and as much of the oyster juice as judgment and taste dictate. The oysters should not be added to the mixture until ready to serve. Put in patty shells or serve on toast.

The days of "cook until done" are long gone. Recipes today include photographs of the completed dish and step by step instructions, along with number of servings, time required to complete, and nutritional information — not to mention hyperlinks to useful information.

Creamed Oysters & Mushrooms on Toast (from

"Oysters and mushrooms are a good combo. (But then oysters go with anything at anytime don't they?) This can be a "light" lunch or a dinner with rice and vegetables."

Ready In: 40 mins
Ingredients: 10
Serves: 2

1⁄4 lb mushroom, cut into 1/4" slices
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dry white wine
3⁄4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon flour
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1 dash Tabasco sauce
12 shucked oysters, or defrosted frozen oysters
2 slices good bread (thick slices)

Cook mushrooms and shallots in butter over medium heat in a 2-quart pan.
Cook until mushroom liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are golden, about 10 or so minutes.

Add wine and bring to a boil.

Mix flour, tabasco & milk, add to mushroom mixture with the cream.
Simmer and stir occasionally until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Add oysters, simmer until edges curl, about 3 minutes.

Toast bread and serve oysters and mushrooms on top.

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