Most years, in early December, my mother starts making a jar of gin fruit for the holidays. Her recipe is mindlessly simple -- layer your favorite dried fruits with some spices, cover with booze -- so I thought I'd play around with a brandy variation to see which I prefer. My mother pointed out that you may need to replenish the gin or brandy after a day or two, as the fruit soaks up the alcohol. And the fruit is best consumed within a few weeks, before the fruit's sugars begin turning the booze to syrup. I'd suggest passing it alongside a cheese course, spooning it over ice cream or cake (with some of the macerating liquid!), or adding it toward the end of cooking roast pork. —Amanda Hesser
To a lidded 1-quart glass jar, add 1/4 of the fruit. Add 1/4 of the sugar, star anise, ginger and clementine peel. Repeat 3 more times. Pour over enough brandy to just cover the fruit. Seal the jar with a lid. Let sit for a week before eating.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.