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Getty Images / Theo Wargo
Author, television personality and EatingWell guest editor reveals the items that are essentials in her eyes—from an ingredient that makes dishes sing and a swanky candle to a pot destines to become a family heirloom. Here are some products Padma Lakshmi can't live without.
1. Cire Trudon candles
- 105 Available at Saks Fifth Avenue
These are a luxury and pricy, but burning them a little bit goes a long way. They are perfect when just opening the windows won't take away cooking smells—and they make an excellent host gift. Cire Trudon is the oldest candle-maker in the world; it's said they used to make candles for France's Louis XIV. My favorite scents are Ernesto (which has notes of leather and tobacco) and Manon (fresh laundry). If you're feeling religious, they even have one that smells like church!
2. Shiseido eyelash curler
- 22 Available at Sephora
My eyelashes grow downward and just applying this curler to them makes all the difference, even when I don't really have time for makeup. I prefer the brand Shiseido for my particular eye shape since it's not as curved as some others. I always keep an extra one in a drawer because I can't stand the thought of losing it!
3. Meat: Everything You Need to Know by Pat LaFrieda
Available at Amazon
I grew up vegetarian, so I never learned how to prepare meat. I've been cooking it for many years now, but I'm still happy to have this handy book near me in the kitchen when cooking a roast or any big meat dish to make sure I'm doing everything correctly. When I first got it, I read it cover to cover—and I have gone back to it so many times. It's a great reference guide that takes the anxiety out of meat cookery.
4. Long-handled wooden tasting spoons
- 5 Available at Bambu
I use these constantly in my kitchen. The longer handles make them more convenient for dipping into bubbling pots when you're in the middle of cooking, and the wood means not too much clanging in the sink afterward. I buy mine from SOS Chefs in New York City, but another nice option is the Bambu Bamboo Tasting Spoon, which is stain-resistant and antimicrobial.
You can also find handmade spoon son Etsy (buy it: $19.95, Etsy.com).
5. Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven
- 160 Available at Le Creuset
Made from cast iron, it weighs a ton, but you get the best stews, roasts and even fried chicken from cooking in it. It retains heat like no other pot I've ever used, and it lasts forever! I've had my yellow one for over 20 years, and I plan on passing it on to my daughter in 20 years.
6. Laxmi Tamarind Paste
Available at Amazon
This jar is one you want in your fridge for Asian and South and Central American cooking (it lasts for months if you don't put a wet spoon in it). Its sweet, fruity tang adds distinct flavor to sauces— try adding some to homemade BBQ sauce— and dishes that will have you licking your fingers clean.
7. Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Treats
- 2.39 Available at Chewy
Our rescue dog, Divina, loves these Rachael Ray Nutrish Dog Treats. They come in a bunch of varieties, but she likes the roasted chicken and beef burger bites.
8. Idhayam Gingelly Sesame Oil
Available at Amazon
This is a great cooking oil that lends a nutty flavor to food without overpowering it like toasted sesame oils—which are better used as finishing oils.
- 49.95 Available at Williams Sonoma
I love this stone mortar and pestle for making spice rubs, marinades and wet chutneys, too. I find these are much more useful than the smaller marble ones because they're made with lava stone which has a rougher surface for better grinding.
10. Digital Scale
- 51.99 Available at Oxo
Having a digital scale allows you to cook with more precision. It's essential for following recipes that list ingredients by weight (instead of volume), and you can use it to measure portion sizes, too. I like a slim model for easy storage.