A Dream Of A Cream Puff

SUNDAY GOURMET

October 04, 1992|By GAIL FORMAN

Usually my husband and I do New York on the cheap and have a great time. But puttin' on the ritz in the Big Apple is even better.

After my husband recently talked about childhood outings with his parents at the Rainbow Grill in New York, we decided the restored Rainbow Room complex in Rockefeller Center would be perfect for a night on the town.

When it opened in 1934, the Rainbow Room was called a "skyscraper supper club." These days, it's a two-story assemblage of bar, restaurant, cabaret/supper club and private party rooms.

For the restoration, architect Hugh Hardy and designer Milton Glaser invoked the past by reinterpreting American modernism. The new look emphasizes geometric detail, patterned carpets, rich wood marquetry, upholstered period furniture, evocative lighting and a 1930s color palette.

Stepping off the elevator on the 65th floor of the RCA building, we encountered glowing coffered ceilings supported by a colonnade of lighted pillars that led us to our first stop, the Rainbow Promenade Bar. For the price of a drink, you get a breathtaking view there of the Manhattan skyline.

For dinner we moved to the Rainbow Room, an enormous glizty space designed like a movie set -- all aubergine silk, polished crystal, cast glass and burnished bronze. Floor-to-ceiling windows glow with the city lights. And terraced seating highlights the soaring domed ceiling, the colored lights that gave the room its name and the 32-foot round revolving dance floor.

Waiters wearing pastel tails are skilled at table-side food preparation. The menu combines up-to-date dishes such as salmon and artichoke lasagna with dishes familiar to 1930s and '40s cafe society -- lobster thermidor, foie gras-stuffed quail and tournedos Rossini.

Following is the Rainbow Room's updated recipe for profiteroles, a classic cream puff dessert.

- RAINBOW ROOM PROFITEROLES WITH CHERRIES JUBILEE PATE A CHOUX (CREAM PUFF PASTRY):

1 cup water

3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut up

pinch of salt

1 cup flour

1 cup eggs, beaten (4-5 large eggs)

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water

SAUCE:

water

1/4 cup dried pitted cherries

1-pound can pitted dark sweet cherries

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup Cherry Herring or other cherry liqueur

vanilla ice cream

To make pastry, bring water, butter and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add flour and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cook over medium heat, beating constantly until flour is incorporated and mixture appears dry and leaves sides of pan. Remove from heat, cool slightly and vigorously beat in 3/4 cup of egg, 1/4 cup at a time. Mixture will look separated. Beat in only as much of the last 1/4 cup of egg as is needed for mixture to hold its shape.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pipe or spoon 24 silver-dollar-size mounds of the pastry onto the parchment. Brush the egg-water wash on the mounds. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and cut profiteroles horizontally to allow steam to escape.

To make sauce, plump dried cherries in 1/2 cup water overnight. Drain canned cherries, reserving juice. Dissolve sugar in 3/4 cup water and cook until slightly syrupy. Dissolve arrowroot in 2 tablespoons water and add to syrup along with reserved juice. Simmer 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. In another saucepan, melt butter, add canned cherries and warm through. Add cherry liqueur and flambe. Add cherry juice mixture and drained dried cherries and boil 15 seconds.

To assemble, split profiteroles in half horizontally and fill each with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Spoon warm sauce over profiteroles. Serves six to eight.

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