After kicking off this year’s Oscar Gold celebrations – The Goldfather, FYI – with my delightfully acerbic friend Diablo Cody, I decided day two required some quiet, respectful dignity. And what is more quiet or inspiring of respectful dignity, than a dearly departed friend?
As such, I whipped out the delorean, set a course for 1963 to escort my dear friend Henry Mancini to collect his third Oscar.
I first met Henny in the mid-50s while working together in the music department of Universal Pictures – I played recorder, triangle, tambourine and, obviously, yazz flute. We became the fastest of friends, and I eventually became his muse.
Now at the risk of confusing the timeline, I grew up to my present self and met my husband in this timeline, then took him back in time to get Hen the Oscar he so sorely deserved … as he never won in the OG timeline. When I got back in time, I convinced Mickey Rooney to take on the racially appropriated role in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Thanks to Mick, it got greenlit – why Aud wasn’t enough is beyond me, but whatevs – and I got Hen the job doing the score.
He then witnessed my husband and my love, and wrote us a song to mark the occasion. It was Moon River, I encouraged him to use it in the film … badda bing, badda boom, two Oscars in one year. Aren’t I all sickening with this love talk?
Anywho I obviously used the time driving back in time to focus on the odds for Best OG Song and Best Score, in honour of my chum. Score is obviously going to Alexandre Desplat who will get his second Oscar for The Shape of Water. Best OG Song however is a three horse race, one of which I put in the race simply by not shutting up about it. While I’d love Mary J. Blige to convert one of her noms, I don’t see her taking either. And while both of Sufjan Stevens’s songs from Call Me by Your Name bring me to tears, Mystery of Love is the dark horse that I’m willing into the race. The Oscar will go to one to either Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for a second year, for The Greatest Showman or Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for Coco. Which TBH, made me cry so damn much. Ti amo, Gael!
Henry was mildly confused when I arrived with in ‘63, though lapped up my excuse that I was so moved by his inevitable third Oscar. I mean, he lapped it up like it was a plate full of my Hamry Asparagus Aramancini.
Now I know I only just posted another arancini recipe a couple of days ago … but get off my back. I mean, creamy risotto, rolled into balls, crumbed and baked? How could you resist? Plus – ham and asparagus is super different to mushroom and gorgonzola.
¿ Por que no los dos ?
Oh … and enjoy.
Hamry Asparagus Aramancini
4 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2-3cm lengths
1 ½ cups arborio rice
½ cup dry vermouth
⅔ cup parmesan, grated
salt and pepper, to taste
200g ham, diced
150g vintage cheddar, cubed
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
½ cup flour
2 tbsp milk
Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan, reduce heat to low and simmer. Meanwhile, heat a lug of olive oil and the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and chilli and sweat for 5 minutes, or until soft and sweet. Add the asparagus and cook for a couple of minutes, or until soft bright green. Stir for a couple of minutes, or until the rice starts to get translucent around the edges.
Stir through the vermouth, followed by half a cup of the warm stock and stir until the liquid has just all absorbed. Add another half cup of stock and repeat the process until it is all gone, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add the parmesan and seasonings, and stir to combined. Allow to cool completely.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
To assemble, place the breadcrumbs in one bowl, the flour in another and whisk the egg and milk in another. With wet hands, take 1-2 cup of risotto in your hands, form a ball while squeezing out all the air. Form a whole in the centre, press the cheddar inside, enclose and roll. Repeat until they’re all done.
When you’re ready to crumb, roll each arancini in flour, followed by egg wash and then the breadcrumbs. Repeat the process and place on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and place in the oven to bake for fifteen-twenty minutes, or until golden and crisp.