1. Food Scale I love this little gadget! It may seem unnecessary to have one but it really isn't. I use it all the time to measure ingredients that are really hard to measure accurately such as chopped vegetables, grated cheeses, meats, etc for more complex recipes. It also allows you to convert your measurements to metric units which is really helpful too.
2. Natural Unbleached Parchment Paper I always use natural unbleached parchment paper to bake because it makes for a really easy cleanup and I choose using it over aluminum foil. When you cook with aluminum foil, there is always the possibility that it will leach toxins into your food. This is definitely the OCD side of me and I know that the toxins that are leached are probably very minute amount but over time, I prefer to use materials that don't do that! Toxins in my food...hmm.... no thank you.
3. Calphalon Wood Corner Spoon This spoon is super cool because it scoops from the corner of the pot. I also always try to use wooden utensils when cooking over the stove instead of plastic because if the plastic utensils melt while in a pot or pan, the toxins from the plastic can contaminate your food. Yes, I am one of those OCD people. I cringe inside when I see people drinking boiling hot coffee from Styrofoam cups and stir their coffee with sugar and dry powdered cream with a plastic stirrer. It really freaks me out when people do that on a daily basis and don't realize that they are drinking toxins every day. Same idea with leaving bottled water in a hot steaming car. The plastic begins to melt and the toxins go in the water. There are several more things that irk me but I will not list them all to prevent sounding super neurotic. My husband says that I remind him of Monica on Friends. I don't know where he got that....
4. Nesting Bowls I love using nesting bowls particularly when I'm trying out new recipes. They really help me to keep organized. I group certain ingredients together depending on when I'm adding them. This helps to minimize mistakes because the sequence of ingredients can make a huge difference for certain recipes. I've used them in a previous post here but mine are not as pretty.
5. Oven Thermometer For baking or roasting, an inexpensive thermometer is a great investment. It really helps you bake like a pro and get the most accurate cooking temperature in your oven. Even though you have an updated digital thermometer on your oven, it doesn't mean that it is right. For example, I have two ovens in my kitchen. My top oven is always 25 degrees F to 45 degrees F hotter than it says it is but my bottom oven is pretty spot on. So if your cookies keep on burning or your pot roast gets dry and crusty when you braise it in the oven, it is probably not you but the oven temperature. You should double check it.
6. Microplane Zester I own 4 of these myself. I love this tool for zesting lemons and other citrus fruits. Citrus zest is one of the best ways to add great flavor to your dish without adding fat. I also use a coarse grater for cheeses and chocolate. They are a must have for the kitchen.
7. Santoku Knife I use my santoku knife 90% of the time and I have two of them in my kitchen. The only other time I use a different knife is a serrated knife for bread or a paring knife for small items such as fruit. It's not necessary to spend the extra money on expensive knife sets because you only really need 3 out of 14 knives. I bought mine at Home Goods for less than $20 each.
8. Kitchenaid Mixer I bought my Kitchenaid Artisan Mixer on Craigslist for $150 and it was so worth the investment. I use it to make cookies, bake breads, make pizza dough, whisk egg whites, and the list goes on. It really helps alleviate your arm muscle when you are making a big batch of something.
9. Le Creuset Dutch Oven This is also a great investment and I own two of these bad boys. I got my red 5 1/2 quart dutch oven for $150 at Home Goods. It is the perfect pot to make stews and soups and braise meat because the pot has such an even cooking temperature and ability to retain heat very well. It is also great for 1 pot meals and the pot looks fab when you serve it to guests. It can go straight from the oven or stove to the table.
10. Knife Sharpener Everyone needs one of these. It's really hard and dangerous to cut with a dull knife. A dull knife can easily slip when you are using it and is an accident waiting to happen. I try to sharpen my knife whenever I see it getting dull like every month or so. However, some people sharpen their knives as often as every other time they use it.
11. Large Bamboo Cutting Board I tried to limit this list to 10 items but I couldn't narrow it down so here is my 11th favorite kitchen tool. I love my large bamboo cutting board because I love having a large surface area to work on. You can even get two of these and sit them side by side to get an even bigger working area and be like one of the cool Food Network people on their tv shows.