Sharon Maag makes Hot & Cold Tomato & Spinach Salad

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Sharon Maag enjoys cooking for celebrations and says she would cook more during the week if the right person came along.

 

Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

Hot & Cold Tomato and Spinach Salad by Sharon Maag

 

Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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Sharon Maag makes Hot & Cold Tomato & Spinach Salad

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print story Published: 5/26/2010 12:01 AM

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If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, Sharon Maag is ready to test that.

For the past 20 years or so the LaGrange woman has been focused on her career as a travel insurance sales person, but at 40, Sharon, and not incidentally, her mother, are saying enough is enough. It's time to get serious and land Mr. Right, and if that takes a little homemade wining and dining, well, Sharon is all in.

During the "getting to know you" phase of dating Sharon brings up her love of cooking, along with her other interests in travel, biking, skiing and reading.

"It's an opportunity to give them a bigger view of who you are, and to take the initiative to set up another date," she says. If she likes someone, "I tell him, 'I like to cook, I'll have to make something for you sometime.'"

Who could resist a line like that? Especially from someone who enjoys experimenting and fussing over food so much.

Sharon was born to cook and entertain. By the time she was 5 she was waking up early to surprise her family with pancakes or muffins; as a high school student she prepared steak and lobster tails once for her parents' anniversary.

"I worked at a grocery store, so I asked the guy in the meat department how to cook it," she says.

Both Sharon's parents were good cooks who enjoyed throwing parties for neighborhood families.

"Growing up around that made an impression on me and I enjoy hosting parties as well," she says.

Sharon is a risk-taker in the kitchen, not afraid to try something new on guests, but she buys herself a little "insurance," preparing "a lot of appetizers just in case a recipe fails."

For herself, Sharon keeps her meals pretty simple, but when she entertains she tends to pull out all the stops, starting the party with appetizers and working course-by-course from salad to dessert.

Because it has been "the year of the 40th birthdays" for Sharon and her friends she hosted a dinner party for the group. She gives us most of the menu today: an unusual hot-and-cold salad and slow-braised short ribs served on her signature, fully loaded mashed potatoes.

Before all that she served dried apricots topped with Spanish blue cheese and tortilla roll-ups filled with cream cheese, peppers and salsa.

For dessert she prepared a Martha Stewart specialty, a three-tiered tower of chocolate cake with dark chocolate and milk chocolate mousses. Add a little wine, and you've got a terrific celebration.

But Sharon is looking for something more, a regular partner for nightly meals.

"If I had someone to cook for, I would cook more often."

- Laura Bianchi

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