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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


Twitter: @MStark17

  1. Recipes, tips for a picture perfect picnic while the weather is nice


    Do you feel that breeze? That gentle reminder that Tampa Bay has not yet been lost to the wet, scorching days of summer? It's telling you to drop whatever you're doing and embrace the sliver of springtime we have left. The ideal activity: a picnic.

    A month or two from now, eating outside will be a sweaty chore. Now? A shady spot by the water is the perfect accompaniment to crustless sandwiches and lemonade....

    Try a meal of crackers with artichoke spread and bright red beet hummus; fried chicken with an olive medley; a hunk of Brie and that trusty baguette; a premade fruit salad; and a fizzy drink.
  2. #CookClub recipe: Lemony Ricotta Pasta


    Food is all about connection, whether it's making a meal in the family kitchen or bonding with friends over a divine cheese plate. In this new weekly column, I want to connect with you about everything from our nation's changing eating habits to the local foodie scene to what's cooking in my kitchen. Look for cooking tips and food trends, with a particular focus on clean, healthy eating and how to put together simple, satisfying recipes....

    Savor a taste of spring with Lemony Ricotta Pasta, which includes fresh and flavorful pea shoots/tips.
  3. Cook hack: different uses for a vegetable peeler


    Different uses for a vegetable peeler: This cook hack puts a common kitchen tool, the vegetable peeler, to use in different ways. Beyond helping us rid potatoes and carrots of unwanted outer layers, a peeler is a good way to make "ribbons" out of vegetables like zucchini, yellow squash and carrots. Think of it as a low-tech (and cheaper) version of the popular spiralizer contraptions used to make veggie noodles. Just use the hand peeler on the veggies like you would to get the skin off, except keep going until you've peeled the entire vegetable. Work the raw ribbons into salads or saute them slightly with salt, pepper and butter for a simple side dish. Another fun peeler trick: Use them on blocks of Parmesan cheese or hunks of chocolate to get curls perfect for garnish. ...

  4. 'Mad Men' recap, season 7 episode 11, 'Time & Life': This is how it ends


    Sean and Michelle are back this week to talk Sunday night's episode of Mad Men, the fourth in this final seven-episode run, which means we're just three hours away from this show ending for good. Episodes like "Time and Life," a gorgeously shot, richly acted escapade, makes us realize just how much we're going to miss it.

    Michelle: Ah, thank goodness, after a couple weeks of morose subtleties and new characters, we get a shenanigans episode that's all about our main men and women. And, man, this ep was a whole lot of fun, albeit one that's dripping with deja vu. That's intentional, as Season 7, Part 2 seems to be all about how the same old tricks that worked before - particularly for Don, but really for all of our characters - don't work now. I couldn't help but think of that second-time-around syndrome during this episode, in which the partners at SC&P connive to keep their business afloat after McCann-Erickson decides to dissolve it (it's the classic NYC problem: their rent's too high!). The partners' plan feels way too convenient from the start, down to the easy laughter at Pete's Secor Laxatives joke set-up. Heck, at one point, Roger even tells Ken, "We've done this before." ...

  5. Operation Clean Closet: Four rules to live by


    I have a closet problem. Specifically, it’s too small for the amount of clothes I have.  

    Okay, okay, so I actually have a clothes problem. Tale as old as time, really: I buy too much, too often, and am bad at wading through my stock every few months to get rid of ill-fitting or barely worn items.  

    But I've reached a tipping point that may involve three baskets of clean clothes waiting to be put away, and so I am embarking on a deep cleanse, a spring cleaning for the ages. After some trenchant investigating (i.e., Googling and scouring back issues of Real Simple magazines) and failed first-hand experiences, here are the rules I'm forcing myself to stick to this time.   ...

    Look, I bought a bunch of hangers! I'm serious about this closet re-organization.
  6. #CookClub recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs Over Rice


    Food is all about connection, whether it's making a meal in the family kitchen or bonding with friends over a divine cheese plate. In this new weekly column, I want to connect with you about everything from our nation's changing eating habits to the local foodie scene to what's cooking in my kitchen. Look for cooking tips and food trends, with a particular focus on clean, healthy eating and how to put together simple, satisfying recipes. This week, an introduction to our new version of the long-running #CookClub feature....

    Creamy peanut butter works wonders in this recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs Over Rice.
  7. Five cooking ideas for blueberries: soup, oatmeal, sauce, more


    When it comes to produce, it's always best to lean into what the season is giving you, and right now that means blueberries. The tiny, tart berries are divine in scones and melt perfectly in cupcakes and muffins. They're generally used in sweets, but we found a couple of savory ways to use them in this roundup of five recipe ideas.

    On pork chops

    Cook up some pork chops, then top them with this sweet, fruity glaze. Add 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries, 1 cup water, ½ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by more than half. Serve warm on top of cooked pork chops. Recipe adapted from

    Blueberries lend their deep color and natural tartness to this antioxidant-packed smoothie.
  8. Cook hack: How to get parchment sheets that fit your pan


    How to get parchment sheets to fit your pan: If you're an avid parchment paper user, you're all too familiar with the problem of the paper not being the right fit for the sheet pan. We've got a solution for when the length of the parchment is longer than the pan, resulting in overhang. Most parchment rolls are 15 inches long. For baking sheets that are shorter than that (the one I use most often is about 12 inches long), here's an easy trick to get the size you need. Take the entire roll of parchment paper out of the box and snip a few inches off the end, making it the same width as your favorite pan. That way, every time you tear a sheet off, it'll be the right size. ...

  9. 'Mad Men' recap, season 7 episode 10, 'The Forecast': The Lost Boy


    Sometimes the symbolism on Mad Men is subtle, sly, prime for heated watercooler debate. And then sometimes...Sterling Cooper lands the Peter Pan account as Don Draper's life stays sadly, depressingly the same as people grow up around him. He can fly, he can fly, he can fly? Yeah, hopefully not off that balcony. Herewith, Sean Daly and Michelle Stark bandy about Sunday's ep (only three more until the finale!), including Joan's rich-old-dude-in-an-ascot plus the return of Ultimate Creepy Kid Glen and his kitchen tete-a-tete with Tinkerbell Betty....

  10. 'Mad Men' recap, season 7 episode 9, 'New Business': Sex, Lies & More Sex


    Everyone was getting screwed in one way or another on Sunday's Mad Men, a carnal carnival slampacked with boot-knockin', laughs, bitter French women...and, per usual,  an undercurrent of doom for our bed-hopping anti-hero Don Draper. There are only four eps left in the final season -- cue sobs and a shot of whiskey -- which means all hell should start breaking loose Herewith, beloved Mad Men-ers Sean Daly and Michelle Stark sort out the boinkage and whether this is the last time we'll ever see poor, sweet, and verrrry rich Megan. (You're a pig, Harry Crane. And your hair is stupid, too.)

    MICHELLE: "New Business" is a strange, uneven episode of Mad Men, so much so that it feels intentional, like Matthew Weiner was trying to make us as uncomfortable Sunday night as Don must feel all the time in his skin. So many little things were off. We encounter Don's two ex-wives in the ep's first two minutes. (WHAT was with that longing look Don gave the Betty-Henry kitchen? Seriously?) SYLVIA ROSEN shows up in the elevator. Stan and Peggy receive sexual advances from the same woman. It's all a bit shudder-y....

    Don Draper, in a rare non-boinking moment
  11. 'Better Call Saul' finale recap: Ode to a 'Chicago sunroof'


    So THAT'S what a Chicago sunroof is! "Now we know!" AMC hit Better Call Saul wrapped up Season One on Monday with some of the sublime spinoff's best moments … and, alas, most disappointing. Your beloved team of feverish Saulers — Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Chris Tisch — have mixed emotions about the finale, titled "Marco," which didn't exactly pay off with a heavy cliffhanger (or a return to Omaha and Cinnabon) (or a nice tasty Breaking Bad reference to make us all pant). Herewith, the crew …

    CHRIS: Well, guys, I'm not sure what to make of that last episode. Kind of meh, frankly. After building a lot of momentum up to this point, I thought this last episide just kind of treaded water. Jimmy goes back to old times, lives his old life for a bit, loses his friend and returns even a little bit more motivated than before. … I think we get it. Where was the kicker, the holy cow moment? I just didn't see it....

  12. Five cooking ideas for eggs: frittata, toast, salad, soup, deviled


    By now we know that just about any dish, any time of day can benefit from a fried egg on top: burgers, pasta, toast, hash, pizza. This is no longer just breakfast food. The protein is versatile and works well with myriad flavors, from spicy Sriracha to salty soy sauce. Here are five ways to use up the dozen in your fridge.


    Available year-round, but best in the spring, asparagus is the star of this simple frittata. And roasting it brings out the best flavor. To begin, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Spread 8 to 12 trimmed asparagus spears on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until the asparagus is lightly charred and tender, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, beat 4 eggs with salt, pepper, ¼ cup chervil and ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese. Cut the asparagus into 2-inch lengths and arrange in a single layer in a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Drizzle with more olive oil and set over medium heat. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus. Cook until nearly set, tilting the pan and lifting the edge of the set egg to let the liquid egg flow underneath, about 4 minutes. When the top is almost dry, flip the frittata onto a plate, then slide it back into the pan. Let it cook for just a few seconds, then flip it out onto a plate. Sprinkle with about ¼ cup chervil and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Mark Bittman, New York Times...

    A roasted asparagus frittata packs protein, thanks to those eggs, and stars one of spring’s most popular vegetables.
  13. 'Mad Men' recap, season 7 episode 8: Final season premiere 'Severance' pays off (w/video)


    And they're back! Not just Don Draper and the gang at whatever his advertising firm is called now, but Mad Men devotees Sean Daly and Michelle Stark, who bantered and ballyhooed their way through the first half of season 7 and have returned to see these final seven episodes of Matthew Weiner's opus through to the end....

    Don + Peggy FOREVER
  14. Recipe delivery services Blue Apron, Plated and HelloFresh: Are they worth it? (w/ video)


    For good and bad, it was the single sage leaf in a zipped plastic bag that caught my attention.

    I was spending a day in my kitchen testing recipe delivery services Blue Apron, HelloFresh and Plated, companies that deliver preportioned ingredients to your doorstep along with instructions on how to turn them into dinner.

    The lone sage leaf exemplified the benefits and pitfalls of these kinds of online services, which aim to help with dreaded weekly meal planning and encourage healthier eating at home. The national startups, founded about three years ago, are some of the biggest players on the recipe delivery scene. (Peach Dish, based in Atlanta, has been another notable contender since 2013.) Blue Apron and HelloFresh each ship more than a million meals per month, and in early March, Plated announced it was going to start offering its meals in retail stores around Chicago....

    Meatball Pho With Rice Noodles, a HelloFresh recipe.
  15. Cook hack: Peel garlic cloves using a jar


    Peeling garlic: As much as I love eating garlic, that's how much I hate peeling the cloves. It takes forever, gets under your fingernails and leaves the tips of your fingers smelling like garlic for days. So I'm always looking for easier ways to do it. This method may be the best yet. All you need is a glass jar with a lid (or you could get creative and use two bowls stacked on top of each other to form a dome of sorts). If you're going with the jar, here's how it's done: Break two or three garlic cloves off the bulb with your hands or a knife, making sure to get any excess papery peel off, then throw them into the jar. Put the lid on, then shake the jar vigorously. Ten seconds should be plenty of time. The friction will encourage the peel off, leaving you with smooth, bare cloves. ...