The French love to name desserts for royalty. This is especially true of those made with strawberries, which were always considered a noble fruit. Indeed, one of the oldest varieties of strawberries in France was known as La Princesse Royale.

Take Strawberries Imperatrice (Empress Strawberries), for example, in which the fruit is arranged around a mixture of rice with candied fruits that is enriched with whipped cream and set with a little gelatin. This masterpiece was created for the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III of France. The similar but simpler Strawberries Conde was a tribute to the Conde family, which produced several French princes.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, French cuisine became popular in Russia and French chefs were invited to cook for the Russian royalty. The famous chef Care me worked for Czar Alexander in 1820. Strawberries Czarina, in which the berries are placed on a bed of pineapple ice cream and decorated with whipped cream, honored the czar's wife. Strawberries Romanoff, in which strawberries are soaked in orange juice, chilled thoroughly and covered with whipped cream, was also named for a noble Russian family.

Celebrities also motivated chefs to make up new dishes. The Australian opera star Nellie Melba, who performed in the capital cities of Europe during the 1890s, inspired the great French chef Escoffier to create Strawberries Melba. Actually, the dessert was originally made with peaches, but the strawberry version became very popular and had the advantage of being easier to prepare because the fruit did not require poaching.

Strawberries a la Ritz, in which the fruit is covered by a pink cloud of pureed berries and whipped cream, is dedicated to Cesar Ritz. The son of Swiss peasants, he rose to become one of the greatest personalities in the luxury hotel business and opened the Ritz in Paris, the Savoy and the Carlton in London, and other famous hotels in Spain and Italy.

Whichever recipe you choose, strawberries will add a noble note to your table. STRAWBERRIES CONDE (6 servings)

3 cups fresh strawberries


1/2 cup rice, preferably short-grained

2 cups milk

Pinch salt

1/4 cup sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 orange

3 tablespoons chopped candied fruits (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter


2 cups fresh strawberries

2 to 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

A few drops lemon juice (optional)

For sweet rice: Bring a large pan of water to a boil and add rice. Boil 3 minutes; drain well. Bring milk to a boil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add rice and salt. Cook uncovered over low heat, stirring often, 45 to 50 minutes or until rice is very soft and absorbs the milk. If rice absorbs the milk before becoming soft, gradually add a few more tablespoons milk and continue to cook. When rice is cooked, stir in sugar and grate in lemon and orange zests. Continue heating for 1 minute, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in candied fruits, vanilla, egg yolk and butter. Spread mixture in a round base about 1/2 inch high on a round platter. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For strawberry sauce: Pure'e strawberries in a food processor or blender until very smooth. Whisk in 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Add lemon juice if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use. Sauce can be kept up to 2 days ahead in the refrigerator.

To serve, arrange whole strawberries on rice. Serve sauce separately. STRAWBERRIES CZARINA (6 servings)

3 cups fresh strawberries

2 teaspoons sugar

3 cups pineapple ice cream or sherbet

A few candied violets (optional)


1/2 cup whipping cream

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sprinkle strawberries with sugar and chill for 30 minutes. For chantilly cream: In a chilled bowl, whip cream until nearly stiff. Add sugar and vanilla and continue whipping until very stiff. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a medium or large star tip.

Spoon pineapple ice cream or sherbet into 6 dessert dishes or stemmed glasses. Top with strawberries. Decorate with rosettes or stars of the chantilly cream. If desired, decorate with candied violets. % STRAWBERRIES MELBA (6 servings)

3 cups fresh strawberries

2 teaspoons sugar


2 cups milk

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

6 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar


2 cups (12 ounces) fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) raspberries

3 to 5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, sifted

For vanilla ice cream: In a large heavy saucepan, bring milk and vanilla bean to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 15 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk yolks lightly. Add sugar and whisk until thick and smooth. Gradually whisk in half the hot milk mixture. Return mixture to the pan, whisking. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens. To check whether it is thick enough, dip the spoon in the mixture and draw your finger across the back of the spoon -- your finger should leave a clear trail in the mixture that clings to the spoon. Be careful not to overcook mixture or it will curdle. Strain mixture into a bowl. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Freeze in an ice cream freezer until firm.

For raspberry sauce: Pure'e raspberries in a food processor or blender. Strain to remove seeds. Whisk in confectioners' sugar to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Sauce can be kept up to 2 days in refrigerator.

A short time before serving, sprinkle strawberries with sugar and chill for 30 minutes.

To serve, scoop or spoon ice cream into 6 dessert dishes or stemmed glasses. Top with strawberries. Pour a little sauce over each. Serve remaining sauce separately. STRAWBERRIES A LA RITZ (4 servings)

3 cups (about 12 ounces) fresh strawberries plus 2 large strawberries, halved lengthwise for garnish

2 teaspoons sugar


1 cup fresh strawberries

1 cup fresh raspberries, or frozen raspberries, thawed and drained

5 to 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Halve strawberries, put them in shallow serving bowl in 2 layers and sprinkle each layer with 1 teaspoon sugar. Chill about 30 minutes.

For the sauce: pure'e strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Pure'e raspberries in blender or processor until smooth. Strain to remove seeds. Mix with strawberry pure'e and add 4 tablespoons confectioners' sugar. Chill about 30 minutes.

Finish making the sauce a short time before serving: In a chilled bowl, whip cream until nearly stiff. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and continue whipping until very stiff. Gradually fold berry pure'e into whipped cream. Taste sauce; fold in additional confectioners' sugar if desired. Spoon sauce over halved strawberries in bowl and garnish with the 2 reserved strawberries. Serve immediately; dessert can be kept up to 30 minutes in refrigerator but should not be kept for longer or berry pure'e will separate from cream.