We're off to the Dawn Service tomorrow morning. A first for us, but as my daughters school has strong links to the local RSL, it's an important event for her.
We'll be up before the birdies, so I'm preparing this dish tonight, and returning home ahead of the family tomorrow morning, to pop it in the oven so it's ready for them when they get back.
This is a great way to use up stale bread too, although I prefer to use an unsliced loaf, torn into uneven chunks as it gives a nice crunchy textured top to the bake.
This takes about an hour to prepare and bake so allow yourself a little time, or prepare the bake ahead so that all you have to do is pop it into the oven for 45 minutes.
1 loaf of bread, roughly torn into chunks (sliced or unsliced)
Dried herbs and spices of choice eg. Paprika, Thyme, Basil, Rosemary
4 rashers of bacon, diced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 cups grated cheese
1 cup chicken stock, mixed with 1 cup evaporated milk
1-2 eggs per person (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C in preparation to bake if you're making this to eat now. Omit this step if you're preparing ahead, obviously.
Spray a large lasagna dish, pyrex baking dish or roasting tray with cooking spray or use a little of the oil to grease it very lightly.
Put the bread in to the dish and sprinkle it with the oil and toss it well. Add some herbs or cracked pepper at this point if you like. We like a bit of Smoky Paprika and Dried Thyme.
Lay the onion slices over this and top with the diced bacon and tomato.
Pour the stock and evaporated milk mixture evenly over this, and top with the grated cheese.
At this point, you can cover the dish with foil, and refrigerate the brekky bake for later cooking. In fact, this works really well because it gives the bread a chance to soak up all that lovely liquid. So at least let your bake sit for 20 minutes if you're preparing it to eat immediately.
Bake for 30 minutes at 180C covered with foil, removing the foil after that time, to crisp and brown the top for another 15 minutes.
Now if you have decided to add the eggs to your bake, after removing the foil, use the bottom of a teacup to press little hollows into the surface of the bake, and crack an egg into each one.
Return the bake to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the eggs set.
Serve by slicing in to sections, each topped with an egg (if you used the eggs) and sliding onto waiting plates. A sprig of rosemary as a garnish will remind us all of those who have fallen.
From the Australian Army website...
"Rosemary is traditionally worn on Anzac Day, and sometimes on Remembrance Day. Rosemary has particular significance for Australians as it is found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula. Since ancient times, this aromatic herb has been believed to have properties to improve the memory."
"On the 25th of April 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula. These became know as Anzacs and the pride they took in that name continues to this day.
Why is this day special to Australians?
On the morning of 25 April 1915, the Anzacs set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and an ally of Germany.
The Anzacs landed on Gallipoli and met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. Their plan to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months.
At the end of 1915, the allied forces were evacuated. Both sides suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli and the events that followed had a profound impact on Australians at home. The 25th of April soon became the day on which Australians remember the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.
The Anzacs were courageous and although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy.
What does Anzac Day mean today?
With the coming of the Second World War, Anzac Day also served to commemorate the lives of Australians who died in that war. The meaning of Anzac Day today includes the remembrance of all Australians killed in military operations."
As an aside, I spent Anzac Day in countryside France a few years ago. The outpouring of gratitude from the people there towards our family, as Australians, was utterly humbling. That they still remember and are thankful for the support of the Australians and New Zealanders, in the conflicts in their part of the world, helps me remember that now matter our place of birth, we are first and foremost, all human.
For me, tomorrow is not just an opportunity for a long weekend. It's an opportunity to honour those who have fallen, allowing our generations to live the life we now take for granted.