Food

                                         is worth overthinking…by that, I don’t mean overcomplicating food necessarily (though there’s a time and a place where that can be delicious and fun too!) but that a thoughtful approach to food and cooking makes for the most delicious dishes and the happiest eaters!

Growing up in the food paradise of Napa Valley taught me from a young age what a meaningful and exciting gift food could be! There was no shortage of cuisines to explore out there- from the Mediterranean-influenced dishes in Wine Country to some of the best Mexican and Asian food you could get- and I loved it all! 

I loved that I could work along with my dad and bond with him in the kitchen and that I could also create things on my own that included my mom and got her excited about what she wanted to eat too! That’s when I realized how much I loved cooking and what it meant to me and to others to create dishes they loved just for them! 

The household I grew up in, though, was very much meat and potatoes style since my dad and grandma came from a ranching background and were the main cooks in the kitchen. I have a lot of fond memories cooking and baking along with them while they made their signature ranch-style classics: dad’s famous grilled tri-tip and tater tot casserole to gram’s famous apple pie and cinnamon rolls. Yum!

There were certain foods like pizzas, pastas, vegetarian, and Asian dishes, and more, which my mom and I really loved, that didn’t make it to the table very often since dad’s rancher mindset convinced home he wouldn’t get full eating outside of the meat and potatoes box like that. So I set off on a mission to start making those kinds of dishes myself to work them in along with the more traditional dinners so that mom and I could explore a bit more of the variety we liked too.

I was hooked on that feeling and that excitement to explore and create with food to share with others. A lot of years, a lot of food network, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of moves out of state later, turned the passion I’d developed for creating customized food and desserts with unique flavor combinations into an obsession! Thanks to the patient and supportive appetites of my husband and friends who put up with my crazy antics in the kitchen and introduced me to so many cooking opportunities over those years, that obsession turned into several years working as a private cook. Requests for specialty cakes from clients opened up a whole new chapter in my cooking and baking journey and a whole new obsession with gourmet cakes! My approach with cakes same as my approach with cooking has and continues to be making flavor combos I craved and couldn’t find very often: Lemon Lavender, Chocolate Tiramisu, Green Tea w/ Almond, and Raspberry Prosecco to name a few. 

Those years in private cooking and baking continue to inspire me to create unique and flavorful dishes adaptable for all eating styles that help others find joy and excitement in what they eat and feel good doing it! 

Here I share a variety of recipes, tips, and cooking methods that have played a big part in my food journey over the years, influenced by my Napa Valley roots and all the favorite places and cuisines I’ve loved in between-from Mushroom Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Truffle Cheese to Tikka Masala Chili, Tiramisu Brownies, Lemon Cucumber and Basil Martinis, easy homemade gnocchi, Roasted  Tomato Bruschetta, Basil and Artichoke Pesto, S’more Cupcakes with Graham Cracker Crust Chocolate Ganache Filling and Toasted Toasted Buttercream. Hungry yet? Stick around and I guarantee you will be! 

I hope you find some recipes here that will inspire you on your food and cooking journey as well. If you have questions, comments, or requests, feel free to reach out to me or comment on the forum. Be sure to subscribe to receive our free monthly newsletter with the latest features recipes delivered straight to your inbox so you don’t miss a thing!

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Michelle Davina Photography
Tess Taibo (4)
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So happy to have you here at Torte and Eat
where food is worth overthinking!

I’m a big believer in cooking with fresh flavorful ingredients and in eating dessert everyday. And I do! I love all things food, beverage, sweets, and specialty cakes (hence the name Torte and Eat) and I believe that veggies and plant-based ingredients can be the star of dishes too! I love too many foods to pick a favorite but I could have Thai, food every day and I eat chips and homemade salsa like a wood chipper! As much as I am obsessed with creating fancy desserts like mousse cakes, tiramisus, and creme brûlées, a good old soft and chewy cookie-like chocolate with ice cream is my weakness and my absolute favorite since I was a kid. 

Things you will rarely to never see in my kitchen: Bottled salad dressings, canned soups, or jarred frostings…because it’s so much more delicious, easy and healthy to make your own and NO imitation extracts because pure vanilla along with all other flavored extracts is 100% necessary for the best flavor in bakes! 

My weirdest food combo: Black pepper in ketchup. My dad introduced it to me as a kid and to this day I can’t dip fries in ketchup without adding black pepper. Oddly delicious and addictive!

My core cooking beliefs:

1. Food is love and one of the most thoughtful ways to show it! The happiness that comes from cooking and sharing food with others is one of the best feelings there is!

2. Cooking is an adventure and experimenting with new dishes from other countries is one of the most delicious ways to explore the world and find new favorite foods! Fusion dishes are a fantastic way to put an exciting new spin on home-cooked meals and one of my favorite styles of cooking. You’re going to see some yummy examples of fusion cooking here!

3. Many disliked foods can become favorites with a little adjustment in cooking method and/or seasoning. My personal approach is not to rule out a certain food or ingredient before retrying it in a new way. Because of this, there are very foods  I don’t like!

4. There’s a delicious place for everyone and every eating style in cooking and my goal is to share creative and delicious recipes here that prove it and will help you feel like your own private chef in the kitchen!