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Real Entertaining: A cozy winter lunch

To balance the dish and increase the meal's vegetable quotient, I generally serve potpies with a salad on the side. For this menu, I chose one composed of baby spinach, orange sections, pine nuts, radishes, feta cheese and an orange balsamic vinaigrette. The colorful accompaniment highlights what is seasonally available.

For dessert, thoughts of pound cake popped into my head. I could just picture it on the sideboard, displayed on a cake stand for guests to admire.

To me, pound cake is synonymous with Maida Heatter, the grandmotherly (she' s 94!) pastry chef and cookbook author whose seminal 1975 "Book of Great Desserts" has been my reference for 30 years. Her books remain relevant because their recipes are concise and precise; they always work and are not fussy, even if the finished products are grandly, yet simply, impressive.

Her Kentucky pound cake, sweetened with brown sugar, emboldened with mace and a soaking of bourbon syrup, continues to be one of my favorite cold-weather cakes, especially when I pair it with my own compote of gingered pears. The cake can and should be made the day before, because it improves with age. It is enormous, easily serving 20, so it will provide me with a perfect opportunity to send my newly made friends on their way with an edible parting gift.

Now all I have to do is find out if they're even in Washington on weekends. I'll call them one day soon. I promise.

Hagedorn will join Free Range chat on Jan. 26 at noon:


Shrimp and Scallop Potpie

Kentucky Pound Cake With Gingered Compote

Steak Tartare

Artichoke Spread

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