Strain the oyster liquor into a saucepan, and add the celery, shallot and butter. Cook gently until the vegetables are completely soft. Add the cream or cream mixture, and bring to the boil. Slide in the oysters, which will immediately reduce the heat. Bring back barely to simmering point, and season the stew with the salt, pepper and, for colour, a little paprika. This is traditionally served with a handful of oyster crackers, but other crisp biscuits or croutons will do.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.