Party!

And fun was had by all!

Chris decided to cook dinner which in itself is a real treat - ANY time someone else cooks, it's a treat but specially on my birthday. My job was to get the house tidied up and make an appetizer so that was easy! And as I had planned on making my favorite tart anyway, I just made it into individual little tartlets. (Epicurious recipe at the bottom)

It was a really pretty day - very spring-like - sun one minute, hail the next! But it was lovely and clear by the time our guests arrived. Autumn came over with a really pretty necklace she had made for me and we looked at all my African beads - she loves beadwork so she was thrilled to see all the stuff I have! I gave her one of my older necklaces which she said was her favorite! All of them are just sitting in bags, not being worn so it's good that at least one will be out in the world again.

Susan and Dan brought Janet down with them and of course, Janet brought champagne which started the evening off with a bang! Literally! The cork shot really high and I have no idea where it landed! Susan gave me a faerie book! I started reading it last night and it's really fun! And Janet gave each of us our own hand-painted martini glasses! Mine is a lemon drop and I forget what Susan's is, but it has ocean and fish on it - sardini?

Dinner was very successful - chicken saute, mashed potatoes, roasted veges and rolls! What a spread and then! dessert! Chris bought a chocolate mousse cake that was to die for! So we splurged all around! And I sat back and did nothing!!!

Ryan sent me gorgeous flowers - stargazer lilies that smell wonderful! I had calls and emails from all the family - except Cody! Mr. Forgetful himself! But it was a very cool birthday that I will count as one of my best!

I've posted the party pix on shutterfly

Oven dried tomato tart with goat cheese and black olives


Oven-drying the tomatoes before baking the tart concentrates their sweetness and prevents juices from softening the filling.

This makes a great summer starter, light lunch, or supper. What to drink: A glass of dry rosé to echo the Provençal flavors of the tart, or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 medium tomatoes or large romas, cored, halved crosswise, seeded
2 small garlic cloves, thinly slivered
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme, divided

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed

1 cup coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil; brush foil with 1 tablespoon oil. Place tomato halves, cut side up, on baking sheet. Sprinkle garlic and 1 tablespoon thyme over tomatoes; drizzle remaining 1/4 cup oil over. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake until tomatoes begin to shrink and are slightly dried but still soft, about 2 hours. Cool tomatoes on sheet. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store in single layer in covered container in refrigerator.)

Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to 13-inch square. Transfer pastry to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom, pressing pastry firmly onto bottom and sides of pan. Trim overhang to 3/4 inch. Fold overhang in and press, pushing crust 1/4 inch above pan. Pierce crust all over with fork; chill 30 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line pastry with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and beans; bake until crust edges are golden, piercing with fork if crust bubbles, about 12 minutes longer. Cool crust 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Meanwhile, using fork, mash mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, and remaining 1 tablespoon thyme together in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add eggs and cream and stir until mixture is well blended. Spread cheese filling evenly in crust. Arrange tomato halves in filling, cut side up. Place olives between tomatoes. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over top. Bake until filling is puffed and set, about 35 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Push up pan bottom, releasing sides. Serve tart warm.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.