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

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    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....

    After unpacking the ingredients from her Blue Apron box, Times food editor Michelle Stark is ready to whip up dinner.
  2. Cook hack: Peel garlic cloves using a jar

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    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. ...

  3. 'Better Call Saul' roundtable: Thoughts on episode 7, 'Bingo'

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    Chris: Well that was fun!

    What a great episode, Mike's apple-chow-down break-in scene a highlight of the season so far, like something out of a Steven Soderbergh movie, complete with funky soundtrack and panache to burn.

    I know this ep featured two things that haven't really struck your fancy so far, Michelle - the Kettlemans and Jimmy's relationship with Kim. But I think both storylines coalesced beautifully here, adding depth and nuance to Jimmy's character. Another little thing I noticed: While Jimmy was thumbing through his law books in search of embezzlement, he first flipped through the entry electricity - perhaps a reference to Chuck, his strange illness and his efforts to overcome it. Throw in Jimmy's clever little trick leaving the files behind for Chuck to review, and the show seems to be striking at the theme of pondering whether questionable means can justify the ends....

  4. Sheet pan meals: A simple, flavorful way to get dinner on the table fast

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    The dream dinner after a long, cold day of cubicles and commutes is something warm, simple and fast. A dish that's easy to cook and to clean up, and scrumptious enough to satisfy your soul.

    Enter the sheet pan meal, a new spin on the one-pot meals Martha Stewart helped popularize in which various ingredients are thrown into a pot and come out a complete home-cooked meal.

    Sheet pan dinners take the concept a step further in terms of flavor and versatility: Meats and veggies alike develop divine flavor from roasting and broiling. Half an hour in a high-temperature oven can do wonders for everything from carrots and sweet potatoes to chicken legs and salmon. ...

    Enjoy Potato-Kale Hash With Eggs morning, noon or night.
  5. Food fight: Here's the proper way to make scrambled eggs

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    In this series we acknowledge there's just something about certain foods or ways of preparing dishes that people can be simply insufferable about. There is no debate; this is how it should be done. We're going to put ourselves out there and declare how certain things should be done — and release the hounds of debate. Feel free to tell our writers how woefully misinformed they are. ...

    Try scrambling your eggs outside the pan.
  6. Cook hack: Preserve lemons now for intense flavor later

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    PRESERVED LEMONS: Make a batch of preserved lemons now, and a month later you'll be glad you did. The finished product can be used in a wide range of dishes (they're popular in Moroccan recipes) to add instant, unexpected zing and intense lemon flavor. And the best part is they keep for a long time (hence the name!), so they're useful in a pinch. Here's how to preserve your own lemons: Place a cup of salt in a bowl. Use just enough of the salt to coat 6 quartered lemons, then place them in a 1-quart canning jar. Add the rest of the salt and 1 cup of lemon juice. Cover the jar and shake lightly to get rid of any air bubbles. Uncover the jar and add more lemon juice, enough to reach the lip. Leave for 3 to 4 days, then open the jar and press the lemons down, adding fresh lemon juice to cover them entirely again. Close the jar, place in a cool place and forget about it for a month or more; the longer they sit the more flavorful they will be. To use, remove from the jar and rinse the lemon under water to get rid of the salt. The peel, not the pulp, is the part that usually gets used, a shaving here and there in risotto, or on chicken, or mixed with olives. ...

  7. My Outfit Monday: Bring on spring (and floral dresses)

    Blog

    For my first My Outfit Monday, I'm going to break the rules and share my outfit from Saturday. That's because I got to rock a new Banana Republic dress this weekend that I'd probably never wear for a normal workday. The occasion: A media preview for an HSN cooking event at the swanky new Sea Salt restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg's Sundial complex. Because this is St. Pete, I could have gotten away with far less glam (there were flip-flops in the crowd, people), but to me this was the perfect reason to take this dress for a spin....

  8. Beauty products review: Those Ipsy products you usually ignore

    Blog

    A couple weeks ago I wrote about my love for Ipsy, the makeup subscription service. I find 80 percent of the products they send useful and practical and lovely. But that other 20 percent often includes things like sea salt exfoliant and dual cleanse mud masks, products I wouldn't normally work into my pretty low-key beauty routine. ...

  9. 'Better Call Saul' roundtable: Thoughts on Episode 6, 'Five-O' (a.k.a. the one about Mike)

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    While Sean is off trying to make himself look more like Matlock, Chris and Michelle take on the latest episode of Better Call Saul, "Five-O," focused on the one and only Mike Ehrmantraut.   

    "He put me on a pedestal and I had to show him I was down in the gutter with the rest of them." - Mike 

    Michelle: Excuse me, Chris, while I continue to mop up the tears from last night's Better Call Saul. By far the show's most meaningful episode yet, "Five-O" is an excellent showcase for Jonathan Banks' Mike and a triumph for the show in terms of weaving the longtime Breaking Bad character's fascinating backstory into the Jimmy McGill-centric dramedy we've been watching so far. If this is an indication of what Saul can do as a TV show, I'm definitely all in....

    Mike.
  10. Cook Hack: Extra broth? Grab the ice cube trays

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    Keep leftover broth in ice cube trays: Leftover broth is inevitable in my fridge, whether it's because I used a leftover turkey carcass to make 8 cups of a homemade batch or because the rice dish I made for dinner only called for half of the amount in the carton. The other thing that's inevitable? Forgetting to use the broth before its seven- to 10-day use-by period. Here's an easy way to store it in the freezer so it keeps longer: Use ice cube trays. Pour any leftover broth into ice cube trays; one 32-ounce carton will fill roughly two 16-cube trays. After filling trays with broth, place into the freezer overnight. Once they're frozen, pop a couple of cubes out as needed while cooking. Or pop all of the cubes out into a large freezer-safe container or zip-top bag and freeze that way, grabbing as you need. ...

  11. 'Better Call Saul' Roundtable: Here Comes Mike

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    Sex toilets aside, Episode 5 of Better Call Saul went to a very dark place at the end of its hour on Monday -- and that place is called Mike's House. Ooooh, Breaking Bad chills! Herewith, our resident weekly Saulers (Sean Daly, Michelle Stark, Chris Tisch) gush, debate and predict how the AMC hit show will unfurl as it creeps into the (hopefully twisted) second-half of its debut season...

    SEAN: You guys are gonna eye-roll at me again (or maybe you never stopped), but I realized my affections for Better Call Saul were approaching Breaking Bad-ish intensity last night when I kept peeking at my clock to see how much time was left. I wanted more, to cram two hours into one. But I also felt that giddy-nervous stir when it blinked to 10:50 p.m. That's Vince Gilligan's magic window, always has been. All inventive, never-saw-it-coming hell would break loose on BB in the closing ticks; it does with Saul & Co. too. And Ep 5 finally, thankfully took us into a dark storm cloud, with fixer Mike (who loves his granddaughter -- and considers killing everyone else) finally seeing his story arc creak open. We might be happy about it -- but he sure isn't. Actor Jonathan Banks is the master of the deadpan deathstare; so much going on in that smooth-pated terrifying dome. The ex-cop is casing someone (hey Michelle, is that his daughter?) and the cops don't like it. Presumably, Mike is gonna call on Saul, and that's how America's Bittersweethearts will start doing business together....

    Mike is in a dark place -- and here's hoping 'Better Call Saul' follows him there.
  12. Cook Hack: a recipe for making compound butter

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    Compound butter: Here's an easy way to impress dinner party guests and add instant flavor to veggies and roasted chicken: compound butter. It's a scientific-sounding term for flavored butter, and it's endlessly customizable; all you need is a stick of butter and anything from chopped herbs or grated lime to jalapeno or paprika. Here's a starter recipe: Place 1 stick of softened butter, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh oregano leaves, fresh chives and fresh rosemary leaves in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well, then transfer to a piece of parchment or wax paper. Roll butter in parchment to form a log, then twist ends to seal. Refrigerate for a couple of hours until firm....

  13. 5 cooking ideas for cauliflower: soup, steaks, tabbouleh, more

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    Cauliflower is certainly the most glamorous member of the cabbage family right now. The cruciferous veggie has been dubbed the next kale of 2015 and is popping up on restaurant menus resembling everything from tabbouleh to buffalo chicken. • It's a good thing, too, because unlike a bitter, leafy green, cauliflower is extremely versatile. The white florets can be used raw, steamed, roasted, grilled, even pulverized in a food processor. In Florida, cauliflower is produced during the winter months and typically most abundant January through March, which means it's time to stock up on a couple of heads and start experimenting. These five recipes vary wildly in flavor and texture, but in each of them, cauliflower is undoubtedly the star....

    Sink your teeth into a “cauliflower steak.”
  14. The dress: Blue and black or white and gold and other serious questions (w/video)

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    Stephanie: Hey, Michelle.

    Michelle: Hmm?

    Stephanie: What color is this dress?

    Michelle: No.

    Stephanie: Come on, what color do you see?

    Michelle: I'm not doing this dress thing. I was up all night watching people talk about it on Facebook. I'll never get those years back.

    Stephanie: Blue and black? Or white and gold. It's so weird!...

    Screengrab from the Buzzfeed story of the Tumblr image that started it all.
  15. Ipsy: Is the makeup subscription service worth it?

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    I've never been great with makeup: Where to buy it, what kind to buy, how to apply it. It wasn't until the past two years or so that I started to realize the benefits of spending more than $6 on powder or concealer (hello, better-looking skin!), of stocking up on quality essentials instead of another cheap purple eyeshadow. I splurged on Bare Minerals face products, which are ideal for my sensitive skin and contain SPF because we're not 19 years old anymore; I'm the proud owner (like, maybe too proud) of an Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palette that I apply daily....

    A recent Ipsy bag, including Probelle nail polish and Hikari eyeliner.