For John and Maggy – soup and brownie cake

Hospitality is not one of my gifts. For various reasons related to my childhood and personality, I am not comfortable “entertaining” people in our home. But I am good at encouraging people, and I have been challenged to get out of my comfort zone with regard to extending hospitality to friends and to-be friends.

But – I can cook. I love cooking for my family and I do regard it as one of my gifts. If I could, I would bless John and Maggy Dobbs with some soup and my rich brownie flat cake.

I got this recipe from epicurious, one of my favourite recipe sources. It’s an intense flavoured soup (don’t leave out the anchovies and rosemary – they make the soup), but with a freshness and lightness that belies the fact this is a complete meal in a bowl. It conjures memories of a dinner in Monteriggioni on a cold night in ’93 (even though I have no memory of what we ate that night).

Bean and Swiss Chard (silverbeet) Soup
from: Soup: A Way of Life | November 1998
Barbara Kafka

Clearly this is an Italian soup. Biete is Swiss chard, usually green, although I have a fondness for the drama and beefy taste of the red-stemmed kind.
Servings: Makes about 5 cups (1.25 litres); 4 first-course servings.

1/2 pound (225 g) Swiss chard (silverbeet) or kale, trimmed ( I remove the thick white stalks)
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus additional to taste
2 flat anchovy fillets
1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves or dried
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil (I use much less)
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled (I mince them finely)
1 cup (225 g) cooked small white beans or drained and rinsed canned beans (chick peas are good too!)
4 cups (1 liter) chicken stock [or Garlic Broth for a meatless soup]
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup (60 g) small shell macaroni (I use Orgran rice and corn fusilli)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
In a medium saucepan, cook the chard with 1/2 cup (125 ml) water and the salt over medium heat until tender. Drain the chard, reserving any liquid that remains. Coarsely chop the chard. (I don’t bother cooking the chard – I just add it raw)

Very finely chop anchovies together with the rosemary.

In a medium saucepan, stir together the oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is pale gold. Stir in the anchovies and rosemary. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in the chard and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to thoroughly coat it with the oil. Stir in the beans. Cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in the reserved cooking liquid and the stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and stir in the macaroni. Boil for 6 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Pass Parmesan cheese at the table.

For dessert, I would serve rich brownie flat cake. I make this at least once a month. The recipe is apparently from Good Living in the Sydney Morning Herald. My friend Fiona gave it to me a couple of years ago, and it’s now the cake I bake most. It makes dessert when served with berries and cream or mascarpone.

Rich Brownie Flat Cake
125g butter
100g dark chocolate
3/4 cup sugar (I use castor – superfine to you North Americans)
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain flour (I use spelt or pharoah flour as I am wheat-free)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Melt butter and chocolate (I do this in the microwave). Cool.
Whisk sugar and eggs, stir into cooled chocolate mixture with the vanilla.
Stir in sieved flour and nuts.
Bake for 30 minutes in 170C (325-350F) oven in a 21cm lined round pan.

And I have been praying about a song for John and Maggy. I have been praying for them with most songs I have heard or sung the last week or so. But this is the one I offer them today. And tomorrow. And the next day. We sang it at “church” last night.  It’s one we sing often. This is a good version. I couldn’t find a Hillsong version on youtube, except a subtitled one. But this one should have you singing.

Love Wendy


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15 Responses to “For John and Maggy – soup and brownie cake”

  1. Tom Humes Says:

    Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

  2. jane Says:

    “Safe in the arms of Jesus ” always springs to my mind in situations such as this. I am so glad we can trust in His Sovereignty and that His way and His timing is perfect.
    Praying healing for the family and their loss and bless you for your support.
    Can I put a toe in the water and encourage you to entertain at home.
    Maybe it would be easier too start out by meeting for afternoon tea on a Sunday afternoon at a cafe somewhere nice. But there is something so special about having your home open.
    I would never underestimate what has caused you pain, but neither would I underestimate our Healing Loving Lord.
    One of the things I always did when I was younger and fitter was to put a casserole in the oven before Church on a Sunday. Nothing too gourmet, sometimes the addition of a can of soup was what made it different but I always knew it was there and if God whispered to me to invite someone home then I would. Always made sure the house was basically tidy on the Sat night, but it was a come and take me as you find me invite. I would often get them to help me set the table and always help to do the dishes.
    Amazing how doing the dishes breaks barriers.
    Changed churches 6 yrs ago and as a newbie in a bigger church I have only really had a group home once. I am often in the worship team and so have to leave at 7.50AM and sing through two services finishing after 12, so it is not as practical for me as it used to be….but I have a feeling that I should be preparing some of those casseroles again on the days when I am not rostered and take a few risks again.
    Back then I would mow the lawn at 7.30 am so that the garden would look ok……older and less able now has made me let go of some of my super high standards….but still what I did was simple but effective.

  3. J D Says:

    Thanks, Wendy. We love you!

  4. magneto bold too Says:

    beautiful post babe, I am sure they feel your love.

    Oh and the recipe for the brownie is similar to the one I posted the other day, but I use arrowroot instead, makes it gooey. mmmmmmm

  5. Ellen Says:

    I don’t know if you know “It is well with my soul”? That’s one of my songs for times of sadness. Another is “I heard the voice of Jesus say”. Haven’t found any versions I really like on youtube, though.

  6. Wendy Says:

    Ellen, my fav version of “It is well with my soul” is the one on the “Amazing Grace” songs-inspired-by-the-movie CD by Jeremy and Adie Camp. It’s not on youtube. There is a good version by Amy Grant too.

    Jane, great suggestions re inviting people over after “services” but for various practical reasons (I attend “church” at night, it’s 18km away) it wouldn’t work. Thanks – you did make me think about being more proactive!

  7. sue Says:

    Hi Wen
    I’m going to try your brownie cake tonight and test it on the 20 somethings – sounds too good to be true – quick AND delectable!

  8. steven clark goad Says:

    “Does Jesus Care?” is one of my favorite songs of comfort. Wendy, will I lose weight if I start eating your delicious recipes? Enjoying your blog. What does blog mean? Hmmmm.

  9. Wendy Says:

    blog is short for weblog, Steve. wiki it.

    I don’t know “Does Jesus Care?” So many songs to discover. My comfort this week has been “Salvation is here” (which you won’t know!)

    As for losing weight – well, everything in moderation. I don’t eat brownie cake or chocolate pudding every day or I would be in trouble!

  10. Sharon Says:

    Hi Wendy.
    I’ve enjoyed reading through your blog. I look forward to dropping by and getting to know you more!

  11. Geoff Pound Says:

    Nice to cruise by your site again Wendy.

    You are doing a great job on this blog.

    My big problem with it is that it makes me so hungry!!



  12. Dee Andrews Says:

    Wendy –

    Thanks SO much for dropping by and commenting over at Finding Direction a couple of days ago! I really appreciate it!

    I just finished browsing back through your blog here and like it. You and I read a lot of the same blogs, I noticed.

    Hope to hear from you again at Finding Direction and will check back here, myself, too.

    Cheers & Blessings to you all today and this weekend!


  13. Far for lunch (well - just 91kms!) « Food from Afar Says:

    […] Serve with a dollop of pesto.  I made rocket and walnut pesto, as rocket is a cheaper option in winter, and walnuts were on special too (I stocked up for my brownie cake!) […]

  14. A-Z of Me « Food from Afar Says:

    […] Cake or Pie?  Cake. Rich brownie flat cake. […]

  15. Lynne Says:

    Thanks, sounds yum, gotta give them a go

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