The trend to comfort food can make hosting easier. Focus your efforts on grocery shopping for artisan ingredients to elevate favorite, easy dishes. We like an amped-up grilled cheese (try a good Gruyere on artisan bread layered with a few slices of crisp apple) snipped down to cocktail party size using kitchen shears. "Bite by Bite" (Clarkson Potter, $35) by Peter Callahan, caterer to the likes of Kate Spade, is full of more ideas for low/high party food.
Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune