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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. For Mother's Day, Times staff and readers share what Mom taught them in the kitchen


    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. ...

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


    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.
  3. My Outfit Monday: A tulip dress for spring


    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....

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


    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.
  5. These 10 cooking apps can help you in the kitchen


    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....

    How to Cook Everything app.
  6. From the food editor: Recipe for risotto and ideas for Israeli couscous


    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.
  7. Cook Hack: Put these tricks to use when cooking pasta


    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....

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


    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.
  9. Cook Hack: Tips for transporting food


    Tips for transporting food: Here are some ideas to help with the act of transporting food from one place to another — something that might come in handy with this week's cover story. The first tip involves moving fragile finger foods, like pastries or bite-sized appetizers. Get an empty egg carton and place a sheet of plastic wrap over the opened container, pressing down one half of the plastic so it fills the holes where the eggs used to be. Then, place your delicate finger foods into the hole and cover with the other half of the plastic wrap. If the items are small enough that they won't get squished, close the container for added protection. Otherwise, leave it open and be sure not to stack anything on top of it. Likewise, you can use a muffin tin in the same way. Another trick helps keep your food cooler, longer. If you don't have a large cooler, or simply want extra protection for one of your items, try this. Fold a paper towel into thirds, drench it in water, then place it in the bottom of a food storage container. Put the entire thing in the freezer. On the day you want to use it, take it out, place your transported food in a zip-top bag, and rest it on top of the frozen paper towel. That towel will help the food stay cold for a couple of hours. ...

  10. Ikea will offer a bunch of food deals April 29-May 1


    Sometimes you just need a Magnarp floor lamp to tie your living room together. That's why we brave the wilds of Ikea, the Swedish queen of cheap, modern furniture and decor. Well, the super-sized store is offering one more reason to pay a visit: a food-focused, deal-filled weekend at the end of the month. 

    To celebrate the nationwide re-opening of Ikea restaurants (you know, the in-store cafes where you find those Swedish meatballs), there will be giveaways and discounts the weekend of April 29-May 1 at the Tampa store....

  11. Five ideas for cooking lamb: Meatballs, rack roast, kebabs, more


    Spring is a good time to consider another red meat: lamb. • It can be gamey, which might explain why it's not a protein staple in this country the way it is in others. But it is a versatile option, available in the grocery store in a variety of cuts, and it's a way to mix up your go-to dinner meats.

    Certain cuts are less gamey than others. If you're a lamb first-timer, try ground lamb, which can be mixed with other ground meats and turned into burgers or meatballs. Or rack of lamb, one of the most popular cuts, and one that can be turned into a classic spring dish that is quite easy to make. ...

    This recipe for rack of lamb includes just a handful of ingredients. Because the seasoning is so simple, the dish pairs well with a range of sides, from risotto to roasted vegetables.
  12. From the food editor: Make the most of your meat with this chicken breast recipe


    This week, we're talking meat.

    Specifically, what different types and cuts can bring to your dinner table. Our cover story this week is all about lamb, so let's start there.

    Lamb is a red meat, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily higher in fat and cholesterol than all white meats. Some cuts of lamb, like the loin or the leg, are in fact a lean meat.

    The meat tends to be gamier than other red meat, like beef, so it is typically worked into stews or ground and turned into burgers or meatballs. For more on the different cuts and ideas for how to cook it, click here....

    White meat doesn’t have to be flavorless. Need proof? Try Peachy Ranchero Chicken.
  13. Cook hack: Catch fruit flies with this concoction


    Catch fruit flies with this concoction: Flies have no place in the kitchen. But fruit flies, named for their attraction to the smells fermenting fruits and vegetables give off, can make their way in to your cooking space. Here is a way to get rid of them that doesn't utilize chemicals but rather things you probably already have in your pantry. Place a small bowl of vinegar on the counter — any kind will do, but white is best — then add a few drops of dish soap. The flies like the vinegar, so they'll be drawn toward the bowl; the sticky soap helps keep them there. Beware, though, that the smell of vinegar can be overpowering. To this day, I can't sniff apple cider vinegar without thinking of our pest problem a couple of years back. So make sure to place the bowl out of sight, or at least not directly in your line of scent. ...

  14. Spring clean your pantry with these recipes to use up canned vegetables, cream of tartar, rice and more


    It's time to take stock of all those stocks. And broths. And canned vegetables. And vinegars and old spices and that one container of cream of tartar you've had for years. It's time to administer a little spring cleaning to your kitchen, and get rid of those dust-gathering culprits. Here is a run-down of the most common pantry standbys, the ones likely to be left there for too long, the ones you should get rid of now, before they go bad. But instead of tossing them in the trash, work them into one of these recipes....

    Put that bag of rice to use in a nice risotto.
  15. From the food editor: It's time to clean out your pantry, plus a recipe for Cauliflower Arancini


    This week's cover story is a good reminder that, every once in a while, it's good to give your kitchen a deep cleaning.

    I'm not talking about scrubbing dishes. I'm talking about combing through your pantry and fridge (particularly those shelves on the door) and getting rid of anything that has been in there for more than a year. Throw away duplicate items — do you really need three jars of strawberry jam? — or, better yet, put them to good use by working them into one of the recipes featured on Page 6. ...

    Cauliflower Arancini.