The Treats: French fries? Too fast food. Baked? Too virtuous. But mashed potatoes are both homey and wicked. For fun, we served ours in martini glasses: six sophisticated mixes ranging from classic cheddar, bacon and chives to a southwestern version with smoked jalapeños and lime butter.
The Raves: Top vote-getters were the black olive and thyme and the smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and salmon roe. "It's comfort food, but all glammed up," said senior copy editor Susanne Ruppert.
The How-tos: Mash up a batch of potatoes—or, better yet, hire a cook or a caterer to do it. Get recipes from any cookbook, or try the recipes we used. Lay in a supply of tiny throwaway spoons for tasting.
The Variation: A sushi feast. If you've never made your own maki, Sushi Made Easy by Nobuko Tsuda will help your party get rolling.