A couple of days ago I bought a panini press, or a presse de panini, as the instruction booklet says--the instructions come in English and French, whichever you prefer. This reminded me of how frequently I use the occasion of a party, in this case a baby shower for singing son and his wife, who are expecting a son in October, to augment my kitchen equipment. And why not? Why wouldn't a dinner party be made more splendid by, say, creme brulee for dessert? So by all means, get a little blow torch.
Once I called my dad and asked how he was doing. He replied, "There's nothing wrong with me that about $10,000 of power tools wouldn't fix." I feel exactly the same way about the panini press, the blow torch, the twelve white soup dishes, the teeny demitasse cups, the lovely demitasse spoons, and so forth.
For the baby shower, I made paninis, with Crumb Bros. country sourdough bread, Jarlsburg cheese, and thin thin slices of Lodi Transparent apples. About the apples: we went to the Park City farmer's market, and there was this old farmer with apricots and apples. I thought it was kind of early for apples, but apparently these are about the earliest apples there are. "They're tart," he cautioned me, almost as if he wasn't quite sure I knew what I was getting into with these gorgeous, pale green, white seeded apples. Anyway: they were excellent in the paninis, which everyone loved, and which would have been well nigh impossible to produce without the new panini press.
Also, I used my mandoline, which I bought a while ago, to shave the apples into those thin, thin slices. It is really quite a fantastic machine, if a little dangerous, since you're always pretty much at a high risk of slicing yourself into ribbons. It's the perfect tool for the job, and I'm very glad to have it on hand.
Also, and lastly with regard to the paninis, I used the perfect bread knife I bought at Target, exactly the right weight, heft, and blade to cut bread into even slices, especially if you're patient and not in a hurry hurry hurry, like I usually am and sort of was today.
I also made lavender limeade, which required serious arm power on my part, since I used one of those little contraptions, a jar with the reamer that screws on top. I think I juiced about three dozen limes and lemons. There are fancier juicers, but this works better than my previous arrangment, which was basically squeezing the lime, say, with my hand into a bowl, with juice flying everywhere and, frankly, terrible piece-of-citrus to juice yield ratio.
For the apple squares, the dessert, I just needed a knife, a jelly roll pan, and a rolling pin. It's my mom's recipe, and it is super delicious and feeds about five thousand dessert eaters. I think, actually, I bought that jelly roll pan nearly ten years ago, when the historian and I threw ourselves a big party after we got married. I wanted to make brownies for the five thousand, and I needed the right pan for the job.