Don’t experiment. The “key to spur-of-the-moment entertaining” is serving a meal that’s “rustic but really well-made.” Pick an entree you’ve mastered: “No one wants to watch you sweat it out attempting a wildly complicated Julia Child recipe.”
Cut the prep work. “Hors d’oeuvres should be simple”: cheese, charcuterie, and some olives. The same goes for dessert. Any fruit in your kitchen can be the basis of a “quick crumble.” Or just serve ice cream sandwiches on plates.
Let the numbers decide. A salad and entree will do if it’ll be just you and a friend. Add a dessert if there’ll be three dining and an “easy side” for four.
Dress the part. No matter how simple the food, use china and crystal if possible. Guests should feel they’re “eating a little better” than they usually do.