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Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor

Michelle Stark

Michelle Stark is the Food Editor for the Tampa Bay Times, overseeing the food content online and in print, including cooking and restaurants. She also manages social media accounts for the Entertainment department, including food. Previously, she was part of the Things to Do crew and co-host of Play Tampa Bay. She has designed and edited the Times' daily entertainment page, and wrote weekly about television at The Feed blog. Stark joined the Times after graduating from the University of South Florida in 2010 with degrees in mass communications and international relations.

Phone: (727) 893-8829

Email: mstark@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MStark17

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  1. From the food editor: Blueberries and salmon, in season now, pair in this recipe

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    Last week, my colleague Alli Knothe wrote in our Business section about what an odd year it has been for Florida blueberry growers.

    For a couple of weeks every April, growers in the Tampa Bay area, "hundreds of small local farmers, churn out millions of pounds of blueberries for grocery stores around the country. They typically beat blueberries from other states to market and make the money they need to survive the year," she wrote....

    Celebrate in-season seafood and fruit with Salmon With Blueberries.
  2. How to work edible flowers into salads, drinks, desserts and more

    Cooking

    As the visual component of what we eat becomes more important, it doesn't hurt to jazz up our meals with something beautiful. Edible flowers are an easy way to add a pop of color — and a slight herbal, floral flavor — to everything from salads to cocktails to cupcakes.

    Marvin Wilhite of Cahaba Clubs Herbal Outpost in Odessa said edible flowers tend to crop up more on restaurant menus these days, and it's because of the emphasis on plate presentation. ...

    Chopped chives with blossoms. [Photo from iStockphoto.com]
  3. From the food editor: Meal kit-delivery services are thriving, but are they useful?

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    The company that can ship a video game to you the day you order it will soon be able to send meals to your doorstep.

    Amazon is joining the meal kit-delivery game — and all the other players in the quickly growing field should watch out.

    The e-commerce company announced about a week ago that it would be creating a meal kit service through the arm that currently delivers grocery to its customers: Amazon Fresh. They're partnering with another notable name, Tyson Foods, to make it happen. The company will no doubt rely on its already vast shipping network — and other sources of revenue — to get meals to customer's doors as efficiently as possible, a boon as it competes with other services of its kind that are mostly food startups. ...

    Farro Salad is hearty and quick.
  4. Look for big sales Friday and Saturday at Doma Home Furnishing

    Blog

    Need something for the home? An ergonomic desk chair? A table lamp? A rug to tie the whole room together, perhaps? If so (and, let's be real, even if you don't need anything), head to Doma Home Furnishing on Friday and Saturday.

    The locally-owned store in St. Petersburg that features classic, modern home decor is having an everything-must-go moving sale, where home furnishings will be up to 80 percent off. I already have my eye on this leaning bookshelf with built-in desk....

    In this photo from 2006,  a sales consultant at Doma shows off the Flexy Table by Calligaris, a coffee table that converts to a dining room table at the push of a button.
  5. Up your sandwich game with these 12 ideas

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    Sandwiches are the ultimate creative food outlet.

    Put enough protein and vegetables and schmears between two pieces of bread, and a sammie can be suitable for any meal, a way to get ingredients to party in a way they never organically would.

    Sandwiches can also be pedestrian (though sometimes, as with a classic PB and J, that's satisfying, too). But they don't have to be. We asked an expert how to take your sandwich game up a level....

    Tuna sandwich
  6. From the food editor: the popularity of Allrecipes, and a recipe for panzanella

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    As the editor of a food section, I constantly think about the best recipes to feature in these pages. What will be most useful to our readers, both the ones who have been cooking for decades or want to challenge themselves, and those beginners who could use some help? We try to strike a balance, but the fact is not everyone is going to get maximum satisfaction out of every recipe.

    An article published last week on the website Slate helped explain why, with an interesting look at one of the Internet's most popular food sites: Allrecipes. The article's premise is that there is a large gulf between the food (and, more broadly, the culture) we talk and write about and the food people actually make in their homes each night. Like how music or TV shows that get the most critical acclaim are, more often than not, ones that have smaller wide appeal....

    Panzanella Salad sounds fancier than it is, but there’s no denying its tastiness.
  7. For May the Fourth, four Star Wars-inspired looks you can actually wear

    Blog

    As it does every year, the Internet is losing its mind making Star Wars puns about today's date, May Fourth. As in, May the Fourth be with you. Of course, our minds went straight to fashion.

    Huh? Clothing inspiration from the franchise that created Chewbacca? Listen up, Padawan. The Star Wars universe has a rich aesthetic, with specifically drawn color palettes and styles for most of its main characters. Leia? White. Vader? Black. And so on. With that in mind, we're suggesting four looks that pay homage to Star Wars without resembling an actual galactic emperor. Or worse, a Wookiee....

    Vader on a penny-farthing.
  8. For Mother's Day, Times staff and readers share what Mom taught them in the kitchen

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    When I asked my mom, for this story, if she had taught me anything about cooking, she laughed and gave me a look. A look that said, "You mean, besides everything?"

    As usual, she is right.

    My mom doesn't have any famous recipes, or generations-old cards lingering in her kitchen drawers. But she taught me about things more practical and valuable, sage cooking wisdom one can only gain after they've done it every day for years. ...

  9. From the food editor: For Cinco de Mayo, tips for making guacamole and a recipe for queso

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    This week's Taste issue is devoted to some very special people: moms. Specifically, how they help shape our cooking and eating habits, and offer wisdom in the kitchen — wisdom that often applies there and beyond.

    We asked readers and Times staff to share any stories they had about their moms and food, and we heard from dozens of you. There were beloved recipes, quick tips, long stories. We've published some of these stories on Pages 4E-5E as a way to honor the subjects this Mother's Day. ...

    Chorizo and Black Bean Queso With Nachos is so hearty it can almost serve as a meal.
  10. My Outfit Monday: A tulip dress for spring

    Blog

    Lately, I've been really into dresses. We're at that point in the Land of No Seasons when it's kinda spring-ish in the mornings and nights, and pretty hot the rest of the time. Dresses are just the thing. I'm also constantly reminded how great they are for making it look like you put effort into your outfit when really you put on/had to coordinate less pieces than a pants-shirt or pants-skirt combo....

  11. Beyonce Week: Food and drink suggestions for your concert tailgate

    Blog

    You’ve got the concert ticket, the outfit, the diva attitude. Now, in order to properly usher in the biggest concert of the year on Friday, you need flawless tailgate food Bey would approve of. Here are some ideas. Make these for your pre-concert festivities, or serve them at the Beyonce-themed party you’re throwing to make yourself feel better about the fact you didn’t get a ticket to the show....

    B loves kale.
  12. These 10 cooking apps can help you in the kitchen

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    The disembodied voice called out from somewhere between the chopped onions and carrot peels: "Pour a good splash of olive oil in a high pan and place it over medium heat."

    I was making 15 Bean Soup for dinner, and I had help.

    The mobile app SideChef was walking me through every step, telling me when to chop, when to stir, how long to wait. I swiped through each instruction page, presented with photos, how-to videos and "Start Timer" buttons that counted down the five minutes the carrots needed to soften in the pan....

     Bon Appetit app.  (Shown on iPad)  FOR TASTE SECTION.
  13. From the food editor: Recipe for risotto and ideas for Israeli couscous

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    Seeking out help in the kitchen can be overwhelming. I'm not talking about getting your spouse to empty the dishwasher. I'm talking about finding ways to improve your culinary skills — or, at the very least, get a complete meal on the table every night.

    There are myriad cooking shows on TV, those recipe delivery services that make cooking as easy as possible by shipping everything to your door, and, increasingly, there are cooking apps. These live on our mobile devices and come in a variety of categories: recipe sorters, grocery lists, video tutorials. There are even some that audibly dictate recipe instructions....

    Couscous Risotto With Mushrooms uses Israeli couscous.
  14. Cook Hack: Put these tricks to use when cooking pasta

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    Tricks to use when FIXING pasta: The next time you cook pasta, keep these tricks in mind. First, to make sure you get the right amount each time, measure it using an empty jar or bottle with a 1-inch opening. A spice jar works well. Gather a bunch of dry spaghetti (or angel hair or fettuccine) and place it into the jar so it fills up the diameter of the opening. This amount is ideal for two people. To get one serving, simply halve that amount. Once you've cooked the pasta, it's always a good idea to reserve some of the pasta water to work into sauces or to thin them out. But it's easy to forget to stop and do this, especially when the water that gets strained through a colander so easily goes down the drain. To remind yourself to save some of that water, place a measuring cup into the colander when you start cooking the meal. That way, when you strain the pasta just before you eat, the cup is in there waiting to collect what you need....

  15. From the editor: Food critic returns, and a recipe for one-pan steak and vegetables

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    This week's column is a bit of a grab bag.

    First, let's start with the recipe below. As with most of the recipes in this column, it came out of an evening when I needed to get dinner on the table fast. It's a one sheet pan recipe that is versatile because you can easily change the ingredients depending on what you have in the kitchen. Don't have asparagus? Try carrots or green beans. A handful of mushrooms would work, too, especially with steaks. ...

    For a versatile recipe, try One-Pan Steaks and Parmesan Veggies.