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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. Can you eat a jack-o'-lantern? And other thoughts on cooking with whole pumpkins

    Cooking

    The pumpkin is sweating, and so am I.

    I've got my knife an inch into the watermelon-sized orb, which is staring at me all like, "I'm too cute to be dinner!"

    It is adorable, deep orange and perfectly ridged, sitting just slightly lopsided with a stem jutting out the top. It conjures pumpkin patches and spooky front porches on Halloween night. It seems a little out of place next to my stove. ...

    Chipotle Pumpkin Hummus using fresh pumpkin gives the hummus more bulk and texture.
  2. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now

    Cooking

    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Dinnerly, a new meal delivery service

    This meal delivery service launched in June on the West Coast, and expanded into Florida about a month ago. I recently tried a box from Dinnerly, which is trying to set itself apart from the Blue Aprons and Hello Freshes of the world by touting its lower price point. It offers meals for $5 per serving in its two plans: $38.99 per week for three dinners for two adults (includes an $8.99 shipping cost) or $68.99 per week for three dinners that feeds four adults. A Blue Apron box of three dinners for two adults costs $69....

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  3. This recipe for Meatless Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash is perfect for Meatless Monday

    Cooking

    This meal is so healthy, I am not even sure how it's so delicious. It's a perfect plate for Meatless Monday: filling yet fun, with "meatballs" made out of crushed nuts and strands of spaghetti squash. The whole thing freezes surprisingly well, too, just note that the squash will be a little watery upon defrost.

    ...

    Meatless Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash. Photos by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  4. Five ideas for quick loaf breads to make this fall

    Cooking

    Ah, fall. That time of year when we start stocking our homes with candy and come to the slow and not altogether unwelcome realization that comfort foods are a staple for the remainder of the year. • We're leaning all the way in with this collection of quick breads, loaves of pure joy that are simple to make and rely on leaveners like baking soda and powder instead of yeast. That's what makes them "quick." We can get away with calling them "breads" as opposed to, oh, "cakes" because they tend to veer toward the more savory side, and contain less sugar. But don't let that fool you. You're still making a big carby loaf of bread. And hopefully, eating it for breakfast. Come on, it's fall! • Note: For all of these recipes, use a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. ...

    Zucchini is bland and moist enough to lend just the right touch to Lemon Poppyseed Zucchini Loaf.
  5. Why is s'mores such a hot flavor right now?

    Food & Dining

    Do you smell that? A scent engineered to whoosh us back to the crisp air and crackling leaves of our childhoods? Preferably one around a campfire, wooden stick in hand and smoke filling the air?

    No, it's not pumpkin spice. There's another ubiquitous flavor seeping into our coffees, our teas, our desserts — even our English muffins.

    It's s'mores, that oddly contraction-ed word that actually refers to an entire sandwich of flavors yet has increasingly become distilled into one roasty, toasty profile. ...

    The Campfire Story at Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar: chocolate bitters, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla bean syrup, espresso and marshmallow in a smoke glass.  (Photo by SCOTT KEELER   |   Times)
  6. From the food editor: How to make your own marshmallows

    Cooking

    I am the kind of person who would rather figure out how to make a graham cracker with what I have in the pantry than get in my car, drive to Publix and pick up a box of Honey Maid.

    In fact, that's what I did on a recent "cool-ish" evening at our house, when we got the backyard fire pit going and the s'mores cravings soon followed. The crackers were good, more like very thin and not-as-sweet cookies than anything else, and I would make them again. No biggie. ...

    Homemade vanilla marshmallows, ready for s'mores. Photos by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  7. The magic behind handcrafted marshmallows, another artisanal food trend

    Cooking

    Nathan and Jenn Clark are wild for marshmallows.

    Not the perfectly shaped grocery store blobs that last a lifetime, but the real, handcrafted deal.

    Like doughnuts and macarons before them, marshmallows have been swept up in the artisanal food trend, made from scratch with flair the way so many trendy confections now are. Chicago's first marshmallow-only shop, XO Marshmallow Cafe + Wonderland, opened in June to much fanfare; its Harry Potter-themed Butterbeer marshmallows sold out rapidly last month. ...

    Aaron Lippard of Cake Affection in St. Petersburg works on a batch of unicorn marshmallows. (SCOTT KEELER   |   Times)
  8. We want to hear about your favorite holiday food traditions

    Cooking

    Maybe it's the Chinese food your family orders before church on Christmas Eve. Or the large spread of hors d'oeuvres you have when you get home. Your most treasured food memory may be the leftover pie crust your mom flattened out and coated with cinnamon and sugar, baking it in a still-hot oven just for you.

    That's the kind of thing we want to feature in our annual reader-submitted holiday issue of Taste. We're not looking for exact recipes this year, but rather any fondly remembered holiday tradition, morsel or story that has to do with food....

    Photo by the New York Times
  9. Recipe for Pepper Jelly and Goat Cheese Tostada

    Cooking

    This recipe is very in line with how I cook most often at home: scrounge around the fridge, try to assemble a collection of ingredients that work well together, marvel at how simple things can come together to produce a dish that makes my husband go, "Wow, this is really good."

    Red Pepper Jelly and Goat Cheese Tostada. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  10. We want to hear about your favorite holiday food traditions

    Cooking

    Maybe it's the Chinese food your family orders before church on Christmas Eve. Or the large spread of hors d'oeuvres you have when you get home. Your most treasured food memory may be the leftover pie crust your mom flattened out and coated with cinnamon and sugar, baking it in a still-hot oven just for you.

    That's the kind of thing we want to feature in our annual reader-submitted holiday issue of Taste. We're not looking for exact recipes this year, but rather any fondly remembered holiday tradition, morsel or story that has to do with food. ...

    Photo by the New York Times
  11. 10 ways to cook with apples this season

    Cooking

    Inspired by this story, a true tale of apple trees that can be traced back to none other than Johnny Appleseed (yes, he was real!), we are turning our attention to the fruit.

    It's just about that time of year anyway, though in Florida that doesn't mean you can expect apple trees to start sprouting. It may mean more diversity in the apple aisle at your local grocery store, though. So load up Granny Smiths and Braeburns, Red Delicious and Gala, and go to town on these 10 different ways to work apples into your everyday cooking. Some are sweet, some are savory, all should help get you in the mood for fall. ...

    Baked apple chips
  12. New: Stark from Scratch, a cooking blog from the Tampa Bay Times

    Cooking

    I have some exciting news to share.

    Today, we are launching a new online space where you can connect with yours truly on all things cooking-related. It's a blog called Stark From Scratch (get it?) and it will be the online home for these weekly columns plus other musings and recipes.

    The "scratch" part is key here, and will be a major theme on the blog. I'm hoping to emphasize the kind of cooking and recipes I already showcase, things like making your own pizza crust or salad dressing. The space will also contain an archive of my instructive 1-minute-or-less cooking videos that demonstrate simple recipes or kitchen tricks....

  13. 5 ideas for quinoa recipes

    Cooking

    By now, we know that quinoa has robust health benefits. We know the whole grain gets more popular every year, popping up at fast-casual restaurants in salads and bowls. We may even know how to pronounce it. (Hint: "KEEN-wah.")

    But I rarely ever know what exactly to do with it, always surprised to find it doesn't have quite enough flavor when cooked like rice to hold its own as a side dish. (And here's a tip: Always rinse your quinoa before using; it helps remove some of its bitter flavor.)...

    Corn and Quinoa Bowls With Herb Sauce. MUST CREDIT: Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for the Washington Post.
  14. This Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake is ready for breakfast, dessert or your next party

    Cooking

    This week, food critic Laura Reiley offers thoughts on the Bundt cake, and why it and other retro desserts are making a comeback. Read that story here.

    So, I set out to make a Bundt, something I have never actually done before. (File this one under: Millennial.) What exactly is a Bundt cake? Technically, it's a cake made using the aluminum pan with a tube in the center and scalloped sides invented in the 1950s. ...

    Lemon Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  15. Florida bought more Pasta Passes from Olive Garden than almost any other state

    Food & Dining

    Floridians would like their bowls of pasta to never, ever end.

    That is the lesson to take from this news that Olive Garden excitedly shared Thursday morning: Florida was the No. 2 state with the largest number of Pasta Pass purchases.

    What is a Pasta Pass? Buy one for $100, and you get 8 weeks of unlimited pasta with all of the trimmings, plus soup or salad and breadsticks. The restaurant's promotion starts Sept. 25 and runs through Nov. 19, meaning the lucky passholders can come in and eat neverending pasta on those dates. ...

    Florida was the No. 2 state with the largest number of Olive Garden Pasta Pass purchases, an unlimited pasta pass for $100. Photo courtesy Olive Garden.