Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Italian Brunch Torte with Capicola, Salami, and Roasted Red Peppers

Emma is allergic to the library.

I have always enjoyed taking a weekly trip to the library with Matthew. He loves reading books so much and it has always been great bonding with him over the stories I enjoyed reading with my mother when I was younger. Thursday is our designated day to go. Matthew gathers up all the books from around the house that we checked out the previous week and then we load them in the car and head on out. We normally spend at least an hour or two at the library - casually perusing the bookshelves, looking at the large tanks of fish, reading stories together, and then deciding which materials to take home with us. I love library time.

Scratch that. I used to love library time.

Now, I kind of hate it.

I feel really bad that I dread going so much. Matthew loves books more than ever and still looks forward to our weekly trips. He is also very well behaved, quiet, and obedient during our time there. However, Emma is a completely different story.

That little tiny person turns into a monster of epic proportions from the moment we set foot inside the library. She is a little happy angel everywhere else, smiling and being her normal calm, easy-going self. However, at the library, she suddenly starts to whine. And complain. And gripe. Arch her back and squeal like a little piggy. If I set her down, she crawls as fast as she can to the nearest bookshelf and angrily swipes everything off the shelf. As I am trying to clean that mess up, she'll angrily crawl to another shelf (whining the whole time), forcefully swipe a book off and then proceed to violently tear at the pages.

Poor Matthew will be sitting at one of the miniature tables, quietly looking at books, and Emma will come over to him and start trying to take the book away from him. A full-out fight ensues, ending with me picking Emma up only to have her loudly voice her disapproval. This leads to every other person in the library to stare at us or to come over and gently tell me: "Sounds like naptime!" Thank you, very much. Is that your secret code telling me: "Please remove your child from the premises?"

Then when it comes time to checkout, Matthew has selected his normal stack of 20-150 books, all with thin spines that are more slippery than melting ice cubes. Of course there are about 10 people in line ahead of us at checkout, so I am standing holding a squirming baby, my purse, and the stack of books because Matthew claims they are "too heavy" for him to carry. It's a spectacle for sure.

Emma is certainly not allergic to popcorn. Here she is stuffing
her face while completely mesmerized by An American Tale

The worse part is when we have to walk across the parking lot to our car. I am still juggling a crying Emma and all the books while simultaneously trying to ensure that Matthew does not run ahead. And since we live in a polar vortex, it is freezing cold outside and incredibly windy - which means Matthew walks extra slow while screaming: "It's too cold! I can't walk! Hold me!"

Hold you? I haven't carried you around in over two years. Not to mention, do I look like I have any spare room in my arms after being your beast of burden?

Needless to say, it is a nightmare. I can only conclude that Emma must somehow be allergic to the library because this has happened every single week this year. I will continue to take them week after week because I know it is a good activity for Matthew and I can't let the bad behavior of my child dictate everything.

Of course, all this was put into perspective the other day when I was shopping for craft supplies at Michael's. We were in line waiting to check out and there was a mother with three children in front of us who was having a lot of trouble controlling her 8-year-old daughter. The girl kept begging her mother to let her buy some make-your-own jewelry set but the mother firmly kept telling her no. The girl proceeded to scream at the top of her lungs: "Oh my GOD! You're a witch MOM! You ruin everything!"

The mother just ignored her but the girl was relentless: "GRAAAAAHHHHHHHH! I FEEL LIKE KICKING SOMETHING!"

And kick something she did - a nearby cardboard sign displaying all the free crafting events held at the store for the month of March. It toppled over with a huge crash. The mother grabbed her arm and firmly told her to knock it off. But the girl continued to scream and curse as they left the store. Matthew was in awe of the spectacle, but I took him aside and tried to distract him from watching by telling him: "You're a good boy, Matthew and I love you.Thank you for being so good." The whole scene made me realize how wonderful my kids really are, even on their really bad days. It was the perspective I needed after having another bad day at the library. Only five more days until our next trip!

The recipe I wanted to share with you today is another one of those dishes that has been banned from our home until Easter because it is made with cheese: Italian Brunch Torta with Roasted Peppers, Capicola, and Salami. I made this first and foremost because it just sounded interesting and I am a sucker for capicola. In fact, after I delivered Emma, I immediately requested a salami and capicola sandwich. I had it all planned out before heading to he hospital and the thought of eating all that deliciousness might just have helped me through those last few agonizing moments of delivery! (Alright, the sandwich was probably the last thing on my mind, but's a great sandwich!)

This gigantic sandwich is made with storebought crescent roll dough or puffed pastry. It takes about 10 minutes to layer everything together and then it bakes in the oven for a little over an hour. Afterwards, the torte can be served either chilled, warm, or at room temperature. I tried it all three ways and while I definitely liked it best slightly warm, it was wonderful either way! This would be an excellent brunch dish - especially if you are feeding a crowd. I cannot wait until our cheese fast is over so that we can make this again!

Italian Brunch Torte
adapted from Shugary Sweets

2 packages crescent rolls or 1 package puffed pastry.
1/2 lb sliced genoa salami
1/2 lb sliced provolone
1/2 lb sliced capicola
7 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 cups fresh spinach
24 oz jarred roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll one package of crescent rolls and line the bottom of a lightly greased springform pan.
Saute the spinach in a small saucepan with a splash of olive oil over medium high heat until all the liquid cooks off. Squeeze dry with paper towels.
Cover roll with half of the spinach, salami, provolone and ham. In a small bowl, lightly beat together 6 eggs and parmesan cheese. Pour half evenly over top of ham. Top with half of the roasted red peppers. Repeat layering with remaining spinach, salami, cheese, ham and egg mixture, then peppers. Top with remaining package of crescent rolls.
Lightly beat remaining egg and brush over top. Cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of pan, remove springform pan. Cool for 30-60 minutes.
Allow to sit at least 30 minutes before slicing.


  1. Hi Monica! So as soon as I read this, I started trying to think of ways you could make your library trips less of a hassle, since it sounds like they are really fun for Matthew. Do you think it would help if you wore Emma in a baby carrier so she can't crawl around knocking books off shelves and bothering Matthew? Or maybe you could bring a backpack for the books so you can carry them out of the library while leaving your hands free? Or maybe even go to the library on a day when Paul can watch Emma, so it's just you and Matthew—like a little mommy-son date? Hope one of these ideas can help, and good luck with your next library trip!

    1. I really like the idea of using a backpack - that would actually help a lot! I'll have to give that a try next time! I have tried Emma in a baby carrier, but she is even louder when she is confined. It's so frustrating! Thanks for the advice, Tess! How are you feeling? Not too long now! :)