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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. This recipe for Meatless Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash is perfect for Meatless Monday

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    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.
  2. Five ideas for quick loaf breads to make this fall

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    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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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.
  5. 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. ...

    S'mores marshmallows and vanilla marshmallows dipped in chocolate are among the handcrafted marshmallow varieties made by Aaron and Ivy Lippard at Cake Affection, their St. Petersburg shop. (SCOTT KEELER   |   Times)
  6. We want to hear about your favorite holiday food traditions

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    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
  7. Recipe for Pepper Jelly and Goat Cheese Tostada

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    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.
  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. 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
  10. New: Stark from Scratch, a cooking blog from the Tampa Bay Times

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    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....

  11. 5 ideas for quinoa recipes

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    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.
  12. This Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake is ready for breakfast, dessert or your next party

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    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.
  13. 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.
  14. What the 10 terms Merriam-Webster just added to the dictionary say about our foodie culture

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    Joining "troll" (as in, a rude person on the Internet, not a bridge-dwelling creature), "alt-right" and "dog whistle," 10 food-related words were added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary this week. That's out of 250 new terms, a pretty good ratio that signals the ongoing shift toward a more food-obsessed culture, one that uses terms describing specific beers and sushi rolls enough that they deserve a place in the dictionary....

    IPA is one of the words recently added to the dictionary.
  15. St. Petersburg's Il Ritorno, Cassis American Brasserie close for renovations

    Food & Dining

    Two downtown St. Petersburg restaurants are closing their doors for a bit and undergoing significant renovations.

    IL RITORNO

    Hurricane Irma nudged Il Ritorno to close a week earlier than intended for construction. They anticipate being closed until late October.

    Chef and owner David Benstock and his wife, Erica, obtained the space behind their current location at 449 Central Ave. earlier this year and plan to expand into that space during the closure. In doing so, the modern Italian restaurant will double its 1,800-square-foot size....

    Along Beach Drive, Cassis American Brasserie closed Sunday and plans to reopen Friday.