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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. Three mug cake recipes ready in less than 90 seconds

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    easy

    Chocolate Peanut Butter Mug Cake

    Ingredients

    • 3 tablespoons flour
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • Pinch of salt
    • 3 tablespoons milk
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 tablespoon peanut butter

    Instructions

    1. In a large mug, whisk (with a small whisk or large fork) together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt). Add the milk, vegetable oil and peanut butter. Whisk until smooth.
    2. Cook in the microwave on high for 1 minute and 10 seconds. Serve right away, preferably with some cinnamon, walnuts or a big glob of ice cream.
    Adapted from thenovicechefblog.com
    ...

    Photo by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor
  2. Wandering Whisk Bakeshop serving bright cakes, cookies, macarons out of a home in St. Petersburg

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    ST. PETERSBURG

    It happened by accident.

    Jennifer Jacobs, 29, made red velvet cookie sandwiches for Valentine's Day and brought them to her office at HSN in St. Petersburg.

    People went nuts.

    "They were offering me money for them," Jacobs said.

    She made more batches at the request of her co-workers.

    "All these guys I worked with would buy them for their families, and the cookies would never make it home." ...

    Neon drip cakes and brightly colored macarons are among Jacobs’ standouts.
  3. From the food editor: A chat with Molly Yeh, and an attempt at her Funfetti Cake

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    When setting out to make a Funfetti Cake, you need to channel your most whimsical inner self.

    This is not going to be a decadent chocolate wonder.

    It is a very white cake, in which there has been a sprinkle explosion. And it is evocatively delicious in a way that conjures burning wax birthday candles and colorful childhood cakes.

    The reason to make a Funfetti Cake from scratch is the same reason I cook anything at all: It's fun. ...

    Funfetti Cake, made using food blogger Molly Yeh's recipe. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  4. Let's celebrate cake, the treat that often brings us together, with these recipes, decorating tips and more

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    I don't need to tell you how to make a cake using a box of Duncan Hines mix. If what you're going for is ease and speed, have at it. This week is dedicated to the idea of crafting cakes from scratch — how other bakers, from novices to blogger to pros, do it, and how you can, too.

    Cakes can take many forms: layer, sheet, cup. But they all start with the same sort of batter, a comforting mixture of flour and oil and eggs that can be endlessly dressed up. This is where the fun of making that batter yourself comes in: Creativity abounds. ...

    Chocolate Tahini Cake. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  5. In Orlando? Try these restaurants a bit off the beaten path

    Food & Dining

    ORLANDO

    I knew as soon as I stumbled upon the back entrance to Buttermilk Bakery, a small patio flanked by succulents and filled with soft sunlight, that it was my kind of place. The new small-batch bakery, housed in a space the size of an elementary school portable, is churning out gorgeous pastries, brunch and lunch, all full of local ingredients.

    This happened two other times — at the Strand and King Bao, both in the hip, burgeoning Mills 50 neighborhood — during a recent whirlwind weekend trip to Orlando, the city in which I was raised but am still discovering as a culinary obsessive. ...

    Three bao from King Bao in Orlando (from left, sweet potato croquette, fried chicken, marinated short rib) and the restaurant’s Truffle Tater Tots.
  6. From the food editor: How to make Trail Mix Bars, a low-calorie sweet treat

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    Next week, we debut our Cake Issue of Taste, in which we'll feature recipes, profiles on local bakers, reader stories and more.

    Which means that in the past few weeks, I have been interviewing people about cake. Making and photographing cake. Reading about cake.

    And, well, eating cake.

    Tough job, right?

    While I firmly believe cake should be an essential part of everyone's lives, I fear I have become too dependent on the almost daily sugar fix. Really, it has to stop....

    Trail Mix Bars. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor
  7. From the food editor: Making your own potato chips is an easy to satisfy cravings

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    For me, indulgence almost always takes the form of something crispy and salty.

    This is the flavor and texture I desire when culinary cravings take hold. It's why, like most humans, I can never turn down a hot plate of french fries, or kettle-cooked chips on sale at the grocery store.

    A snack yearning struck recently when I was at home, with no interest in leaving the house. I had some multicolored potatoes on my counter, and a recently resurfaced pin on my Pinterest board for oven-baked potato chips. ...

    Homemade baked potato chips with Sriracha-yogurt dip. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  8. From the food editor: Making falafel at home, plus a pita pocket to put them in

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    I love falafel, but it's not something I eat very often. Maybe that's because the state and quality of falafel can vary widely depending on where you get it. Sometimes the crispy chickpea patties taste like nothing more than dense coating and oil.

    Over a plate of very solid house-made falafel at St. Petersburg vegan restaurant Food Love Central the other day, I found myself thinking about whether I could re-create the little orbs at home. ...

  9. Send us your cake stories: birthday, wedding, and everything in between

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    Ah, cake. The great equalizer. There seems to be no event — birthday, wedding, job loss, new baby's gender reveal, Valentine's Day, a really tough Tuesday — that cake can't make just a little bit more special. We have felt a pull toward comfort foods especially this year (see my most recent column), and when many story ideas about cake were bubbling up earlier this year, plans for a Cake Issue of Taste began to form. Think decorating tips, a column on special birthday memories, and plenty of recipe ideas. But we also want to hear from you, our readers. Send us your cake stories: memories of a very special slice, recipes for your favorite layered wonder, photos of a homemade decorated delight, etc. Email mstark@tampabay.com with CAKE in the subject line, or contact us on Facebook or Twitter....

    Chocolate cake with burned candles.
  10. From the food editor: A wholesome bowl to counteract all of the comfort foods of 2017

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    A couple weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast while cooking. I do this a lot. It's how I pass the time in a quiet kitchen. (Though I need more food podcasts to listen to — let me know if you have any suggestions.)

    It was an episode of the New York Times' Still Processing podcast, with pop culture writers Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham. They talk about everything, from Oscar-nominated movies to race in America to making turkey gravy. ...

    Balsamic-Honey Farro Bowl. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  11. Five ideas for almonds: Almond cake, almond-herb sauce, almond-crusted fish

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    It's important to take cooking inspiration where you can find it. It's easy for me to get into a rut, cook the same old stuff for dinner each night and leave my creative cooking muscles to languish. So when I stumble on something that really inspires me, I usually take a deep dive.

    So it is with Molly Yeh's cookbook Molly on the Range, from which I've made a handful of recipes now, from breakfast to dinner to dessert. The first recipe in this collection of ideas for how to use almonds is inspired by one of the recipes Yeh published on her blog in 2016, and is sort of the epitome of almond usage. It uses almost every variation there is: almond paste, almond meal, almond extract, actual almonds....

    Almond cake with whipped cream frosting.
  12. From the food editor: Making ricotta gnocchi is the easiest path to homemade pasta

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    Usually, there comes a point at which something goes terribly wrong.

    Okay, maybe not terribly, but bad enough that I begin to question everything and briefly wonder why I'm not a person who eats more frozen pizzas.

    That's just how it goes when you're experimenting with new recipes. Or at least it is when I, a chronic recipe skimmer, experiment with new recipes. I am slowly learning my lesson, trying with each new ingredient and instruction list to read carefully, lest I miss a crucial step like, "Let this mixture you just combined sit for 48 hours, thereby ensuring it will definitely not be suitable for tonight's dinner."...

    Ricotta Gnocchi. Photos by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  13. From the food editor: Making bao, the steamed Asian buns, at home

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    First of all, you need a proper steamer.

    I did not have one when I set out to make bao, a steamed bun popular in Asian cuisines, but I realized it too late in the game.

    Using the cookbook Molly on the Range by food blogger Molly Yeh as my guide, I took on the task of making the buns from scratch. Yeh's dad is Chinese, and she grew up eating the buns.

    The formula didn't seem too out of my wheelhouse. I've made various breads, bagels, pizza dough, even crackers in my kitchen, using some combination of yeast, flour, fat and sugar. Bao did not require anything more exotic than that. ...

    Schnitzel Bao with Sesame Pickles. [Photo by Molly Yeh.]
  14. Valentine's Day recipes to cook up for your sweetheart at home

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    Ah, the day of love. What to do when it falls on a Tuesday, the least romantic day of the week? Get in the kitchen.

    Say you went out for small plates this past weekend, or are headed to your favorite restaurant on Saturday. That makes Tuesday the perfect night to stay home, get cozy, and cook up something delicious. I'll let you decide how to tackle the meal. Maybe one person cooks while the other cleans. Maybe one of you forgot about Valentine's Day altogether, and this is your grand please-don't-be-mad gesture. ...

    Ricotta gnocchi with parsley pesto, topped with pistachios and cheese. (Photo by the New  York Times)
  15. From the food editor: For Valentine's Day, I tried making macarons at home

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    There are a couple of different ways to approach your Valentine's Day food plan.

    You can keep things low-key, even pointedly cheap. (For 50 of the best affordable spots in Tampa Bay, check out tampabay.com/top50restaurants.) Or the holiday of love (or eye-rolling, depending on how cynical you are) can be a time to think about extravagant foods, items you wouldn't normally eat or cook but that can help woo a special someone. ...

    French macarons. (TNS)