Holiday Fruit Desserts: Pear Hazelnut Frangipane Galette




Gorgeously sumptuous in the seasonal colors, the pear hazelnut frangipane galette will appeal to the eye and tastebud alike. Almond frangipane is often used for pears in pastries, but I sometimes find it too sweet (preferring a savory edge without being overwhelmingly sweet). Cue in hazelnuts, which give that nuttiness flavor complementary to pears. The pears are not poached prior to being baked therefore they will be crisp, a nice textural contrast with the pillowy hazelnut frangipane. An alternative would be to poach them whole and cut them fan-like as they appear in this galette. The galette dough recipe is a reliable and nearly foolproof one that Dorie Greenspan uses in Baking Chez Moi. I have used it several times with success – the pastry is buttery and flaky like pie dough. The pear hazelnut frangipane galette can be served warm or at room temperature. If you feel really decadent, you could add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  ~ Eric


Galette Dough (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

Makes 1 galette crust

1 1/2 cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces (frozen butter is good here)

1/4 cup ice water

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix thoroughly. Sprinkle cubes of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is incorporated into the flour. The texture initially will be somewhat like coarse cornmeal, and additional pulsing will  produce a mixture that has small flake-size pieces and some larger pea-size pieces. Add a bit of ice water and pulse, add some more, pulse and add until no more water is left. Pulse longer and stop momentarily to scrap the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl. Now work in longer pulses, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor. In time, a dough that resembles feta cheese curds will result. Do not overpulse. but pulse enough that the wheel against the dough begins to slow down. Turn the dough out onto a work surface.

Shape the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk and put it between two large pieces of parchment paper.  Roll the dough while it is cool into a circle approximately 12 inches in diameter. Cut a circle out of the dough (I used the removable tart tin base when you construct the galette).  You don’t want an overly thin dough, and it’s preferable to have a thick dough with some heft especially where galettes are concerned.

Slide the rolled-out dough, still between the papers, onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Leave the dough on the counter for a few minutes until t’s flexible enough to lift and fold without cracking.


Hazelnut Frangipane

125 g softened unsalted butter

100g (1/2 cup) sugar

2 tsp plain flour

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

135 g (1 1/4 cups) hazelnut meal

To make the hazelnut meal, finely chop whole hazelnuts in a food processor. Set aside.

Place the butter and 100 g sugar in a food processor and whiz until combined. Add the flour and whiz to combine. With the motor running, add the eggs and vanilla, then add the hazelnut meal and whiz until well combined.



3 pears unpeeled and de-cored ( I used Bosc pears and I left on the skin on).

Cut the pears in half through the stem end and remove the cores with a spoon (I used a teapsoon). Slice the pears thinly and vertically, with slices 1/2 inch (12 mm) from the stem so the they remain attached at the stem end.


To assemble:

1.) Preheat the oven and the baking sheet to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). The preheated baking sheet helps crisp up the bottom of the pastry and minimizes the risk of a soggy bottom.

2.) Spread the hazelnut frangipane evenly on the dough, leaving 2 inches (5 cm) around the edge.

2.) Fan out the pear slices on the top of the frangipane layer – you may find it easier to split the pear fans in half and spread them out.

3.) Fold the edge of the galette dough towards the center.

Bake the galette for 45 to 55 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden brown and the frangipane turns a beige brown.

Note: The recipe makes leftover frangipane and dough for a mini-galette.

Tuesday’s Terrace: Autumn Cheer from Firethorn, Philadelphia, PA

unnamedInfrequently seen in gardens due to its fire blight susceptibility, Pyracantha (firethorn) here has been meticulously trained as an espalier over the front entry of a Society Hill home in Philadelphia. Its orange berries add a festive autumnal touch especially when Halloween is around the corner. The mums, while colorful, seem to be an afterthought in the glowing spectacle of the firethorn. ~ Eric

5-10-5: Philippe Lévesque of Balmoral Gardens


Perhaps one of the youngest, if not the most well-traveled nurserymen in North America, French-Canadian Philippe  Lévesque operates a small-scale specialist nursery, Balmoral Gardens, northeast of Montreal, Quebec.  Philippe carefully built up his nursery stock by importing and propagating plants from his North American and European forays. The stock includes herbaceous perennial and ornamental grass cultivars not yet widely distributed and uncommon in U.S., as well as untested for their full ornamental worthiness in warmer regions. Although the growing season is unmercifully short, herbaceous perennials perform beautifully in the warm days and cool nights, and combinations not achievable in warmer, milder climates can be created. In addition to his nursery, Philippe maintains a photographic library, Macrophylla Photography and his photographs are featured here.

Hello and can you introduce yourself?

Philippe Lévesque, Canadian gardener and owner of Balmoral Gardens, in New Brunswick, Canada

The arts or horticulture?

Aren’t the two intertwined?  If I must choose, horticulture because I don’t have a very artistic hand and I could live without man-made things but not nature.

Village of Balmoral, near the nursery
Village of Balmoral, near the nursery

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background…

I grew up here in Northern New Brunswick in a very ordinary place, went to Guelph University to study botany, which I hated. So I went to garden in England for two years, came back, set up my nursery which was called Macrophylla, closed it down 5 years later to go back to England, lived there for another 6 years, then moved to Australia for a year before coming back here.  I have a certificate in horticulture from the RHS, but got that only recently.  I am mainly self-taught in gardening as it’s a great passion that has always animated me.

Do you remember your first gardening memory?

Father rototilling the veg garden in May and then us planting peas and beans when I was 6.

Brassicas and squash vines fill the raised beds in the vegetable garden.
Brassicas and squash vines fill the raised beds in the vegetable garden.

What does a typical day consist of?

A day at the nursery (when I am not at clients’ homes landscaping) is spent differently every single day, depending on the season etc.  but it always starts off with a walk around the gardens to see how the plants are doing and to see what’s come up in bloom, often with my camera in hand (if the light is kind enough). I usually weed as I go along too, so that can easily take an hour. Then I usually have something to plant in the ground or in pots, or plants needing dividing. I seem to spend an awful lot of time wheelbarrowing manure!  Mulching and watering is mostly mum (my business partner)’s job. If it’s a hot day, we work at the potting shed in the shade pricking out seedlings or potting plants. A typical day is not without many hot drinks, chocolate and cake!

Nursery stock beds at Balmoral Gardens
Nursery stock beds at Balmoral Gardens

You have gardened in England and Australia (Queensland). How have your overseas experience altered your perspectives on gardening?

Different climates bring different challenges to the gardener, and it made me realize that no matter where one is, it’s not acquired without lots of work. Gardening in the tropics did make me appreciate the intensity of the temperate seasons and gardening in Britain made me appreciate the advantage of a deep blanket of snow. I don’t see the climate as much a limitation anymore (although I wouldn’t mind living in a place where I could grow quince trees!).

Aconitum uncinatum
Aconitum uncinatum

Your plants look incredibly healthy! What is your secret behind propagating and producing healthy beautiful plants for your clients?

We grow our plants in the ground and only pot them up as needed. It’s much easier to grow a vigorous plant in the garden than in the artifical medium of a plastic pot. Our soil here is varied and we try to put the right plant in the right soil. No point planting primulas in our sandy hilltop garden, when they relish the riverside beds and vice versa, Perovskia (Russian sage) doesn’t like our cool summer combined with cold winters, and we can only grow them well in our rocky sunny border. Basic recipe in all cases is lots of horse manure before planting and lots of water immediately afterwards. Otherwise a seaweed and woodchip mulch, nothing else. We water only when the plants are beginning to show signs of stress, but then we drench them.

Aconitum x cammarum 'Bicolor', Liatris spicata 'Kobold', and Helichtoctrichon sempervirens at the nursery
Aconitum x cammarum ‘Bicolor’, Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’, and Helichtoctrichon sempervirens at the nursery

What are some of the specific cold-climate challenges you face up north? I remember how devastated you were one year when the majority of your nursery stock died during the lack of snow insulation.

The worst challenge is not growing the plants at all (although that fateful winter of 2004 taught us to protect well the more tender plants like Kniphofia, Persicaria, and Euphorbia without fail with dead leaves and conifer branches, and not hope too much from woody plants as we don’t grow that many at all other than a few rare hardy roses and willows). The problem is from hasty gardeners in spring! Garden centres and people at plant fairs want their plants ready grown by May – our garden is usually under snow until at least April 20th, we can’t even access the plants till then! We only have one greenhouse where we can force only a limited number of plants into growth in the spring, so I guess we sometimes miss sales because of our lateness. Our short summers also means that we have to be very organized when we take cuttings or divide.

Autumn Bouquet containing Aster 'Photograph', 'Lutetia', and 'Blue Eyes', Helianthus 'Orgyalis', Cirsium rivulare 'Atropurpureum', Solidago rigida, Leucanthemella serotina, Persicaria 'Pink Elephant', Sanguisorba 'Stand Up Comedian' and Sanguisorba 'Blackthorn'
Autumn Bouquet containing Aster ‘Photograph’, ‘Lutetia’, and ‘Blue Eyes’, Helianthus ‘Orgyalis’, Cirsium rivulare ‘Atropurpureum’, Solidago rigida, Leucanthemella serotina, Persicaria ‘Pink Elephant’, Sanguisorba ‘Stand Up Comedian’ and Sanguisorba ‘Blackthorn’

Can you name some of your favorite late season perennials and grasses?


Aconitum carmichaellii  ‘Spätlese’ because it’s a nice pale colour in contrast to ‘Barker’s Variety’ that has the largest darkest flowers of all.  I like them both because they are not so stiff like other A. carmichaelii and have healthy glossy foliage.

Aster ‘Little Carlow’  –   the best aster because it is very floriferous, has nice glossy foliage that never gets ill, and is the nicest colour.
Aster ‘Coombe Fishacre’ – when it flowers, it’s a lavender-pink mound and not ill either.

Helianthus ‘Dorian Roxburgh’ (hybrid between H. ‘Lemon Queen’ and H. giganteus ‘Sheila’s Sunshine’)  – it’s a nice tall and elegant plant in a delicate shade of yellow.
Helianthus ‘Orgyalis’ –  Tall and strong and full of large flowers on burgundy stems over lovely narrow foliage, what more could I want from a sunflower?!

Helianthus 'Orygalis'
Helianthus ‘Orygalis’

Kniphofia ‘Mermaiden’ – just the most amazing green colour and size!
Kniphofia ‘Percy’s Pride’ – a gift from British plantsman John Grimshaw and it’s a good flowerer, even here where other Kniphofias can be shy
Kniphofia  ‘Lord Roberts’ – a large variety in a shade that is VERY effective, dark, a strong accent.
Kniphofia ‘Rich Echoes’ – wonderful as well and flowers a little earlier.

Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Jo and Guido’s Form’ because it’s a delicious shade of pink (although I do find it a bit
Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Taurus’ – the most vibrant red ever and it flowers on and on.
Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Orangefield’ because it’s different from the others, and a colour that beckons the eye.  Neither pink, nor orange, a special look I find endearing. I guess I should also put ‘Rosea’ even if it’s more common because it is just the best of the lot. Has been in bloom for three months now.
Persicaria polystachya –  it’s carefree, and just the most generous white flower in autumn.  I love the combination of orange bamboo-like stems and pure white lace.  Delicate but strong at the same time.

Sanguisorba tenuifolia 'Stand up Comedian'
Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Stand up Comedian’

Sanguisorba tenuifolia  ‘Stand Up Comedian’  – it’s the strongest white, never flops like other tall white forms and I like the quirky name,
Sanguisorba ‘Blackthorn’ too because it’s strong but also because it has large conspicuous bottlebrushes, more showy than most late Sanguisorbas.

Sanguisorba 'Blackthorn'
Sanguisorba ‘Blackthorn’

Vernonia gigantea ‘Purple Pillar’, just the biggest show stopper for its size and colour.  ‘Mammuth’ is more manageable and just as good actually.
Vernonia lettermanii – the foliage, wow!


Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Waldenbuch’  – more elegant and not so stiff as ‘Karl Foerster’ Also a warmer golden yellow.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Berlin’ – golden flowers that shine, unique
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Huron Sunrise’ – the most floriferous
Miscanthus sinensis ‘November Sunset’ for the vibrant red/purple foliage

Miscanthus sinensis 'November Sunset'
Miscanthus sinensis ‘November Sunset’

Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinacea ‘Cordoba’ – the most elegant of tall sorts and ‘Variegata’ – the most beautifully symmetrical plant one could wish for.

Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Fred’s Red’ – a selection made by my friend, does not flop like ‘The Blues’ or the other American selections and is the most striking red colour in the autumn.

Sorghastrum nutans ‘Sioux Blue’ for the blue foliage/golden flower combination.  I just love Sorghastrum anyway!

Fields near the nursery
Fields near the nursery

How would you describe the Philippe aesthetic?

Organic! Hewn but, I hope, genuine. Simple, clean lines are good but nothing minimalist (how so dull!). Bold accents, stone, wood, water, bright light, vibrant colours in the right place.

What specific sources of creative inspiration do you often turn to?

Nature is my first inspiration, then British and Japanese gardens, abstract paintings for colour combinations, magazines, the web.  I don’t often look for inspiration, it’s always all around me, and in these days of media’s frenzy, it’s easy to be overwhelmed!

Lilium regale, thyme, and roses line the stone pathway at Reford Gardens, a local favourite of Philippe.
Lilium regale, thyme, and roses line the stone pathway at Reford Gardens, a local favourite of Philippe.

What garden, private or public, inspires you?

Just one? Impossible!  So many interesting ones!  Reford Gardens near here is special, beautiful and a well-kept secret.

What would be your desert island plant and piece of art be?

The plant would have to be amaranth, because it’s beautiful, edible, useful and resilient.  A piece of art would be the indigo batik I bought in Indonesia to wear or to shade myself.

And what grain of wisdom can you proffer to readers interested in gardening and the natural world?

Go organic!

What are you looking forward to?

Next spring of course! Being independent from petrol, having my own farm, my next visit to other nurseries, my piano being delivered, and my cake coming out of the oven!

Thank you, Philippe, for the interview!


Autumn Wildflower Muses

Dear Jimmy,

How are you? I hope that you’re well and are enjoying what Gravetye offers as its last seasonal hurrah – the bounty of the walled kitchen garden, the borders bustling with dahlias, grasses, asters, the misty landscapes. It is the same here at Chanticleer. Looking for a respite away from the city and its suburbs, I accepted an invitation to spend the weekend at a friends’ Poconos retreat. The last time I visited, it was summer and we had an evening campfire after a day of cooking and swimming. Although autumn had not made its official start, the night was chilly, motivating us to lit the fireplace for toasty temperatures.  The sumach (Rhus typhina) had already turned aflame and traces of red appeared on the red maple (Acer rubrum). At the farmers’ market, I bought decorative gourds and apples while trying to resist cider donuts. It would be the last week for stone fruit and tomatoes. On the drive back, we saw that the fields were already colorful from autumn wildflowers. It occured to me that some of them have been muses for early 19th century American writers.

Milkweeds (Ascelpias syriaca) and goldenrods (Solidago) signal the start of autumn in a roadside meadow.
Milkweeds (Ascelpias syriaca) and goldenrods (Solidago) signal the start of autumn in a roadside meadow.

Grows a weed

More richly here besides our melllow seas

That is autumn’s harbringer and pride…

The goldenrod upon a thousand hills

This is the autumn’s flower, and to my soul

A  token fresh of beauty and life

by Richard  Watson Gilder

Goldenrods were at their best, making me wonder briefly why they haven’t gained acceptance in contemporary naturalistic plantings. It’s a shame that their thuggish tendencies in the garden lead to their exclusion, but for good reasons. I once grew Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ with Sedum ‘Matrona’, Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’, and Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ until I had to remove it from spreading into other plants. Pulling any goldenrod needs a good dose of strength – their roots run untrammeled and deep! Now I’m happy to see them brilliantly  golden and buzzing with insects in open meadows.

Particular about its habitat preferences, the fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita) is a true blue, a catchy color amidst the yellows and reds of the landscape.
Particular about its habitat preferences, the fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita) is a true blue, a catchy color amidst the yellows and reds of the landscape.

The GENTIAN weaves her fringes,

The maple’s loom is red.

My departing blossoms

Obviate parade

by Emily Dickinson

Under flawless blue skies, we pulled over by the roadside to admire up-close the colonies of the fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita). I remembered seeing this gentian in upstate New York when my naturalist friend and I drove to a wildflower preserve where the flowers lit up the tawny meadow like sapphires. Individual plants are short-lived, growing only a year or two, but will reseed if happy and given the right conditions. The fringed gentian is somewhat particular in its habitat requirements, preferring shallow, magnesium-rich soils in moist sunny meadows, and strangely has found disturbed roadsides to its liking. It’s amazing how a rather nondescript plant can abide its time for a year and wait the following year until late summer to mid-autumn to flower.  Once  those 1 1/2″ to 2″ flowers reveal their fringed and spreading tubular flowers, the long wait is forgotten. Blue flowers always carry that rarified air and the fringed gentian’s specific needs remind me of how we labor to grow blue poppies or delphiniums well. In this case we need not to toil for the flowers, enjoying them as the 19th century writers William Cullen Bryant, Emily Dickinson, and Henry David Thoreau did once on a blue sunny autumn day. It seems a bit melancholy to discover how rare the fringed gentian are due to habitat loss.


Born to the purplest purple, deep, intense,

Mocking the gentian’s fringe with hue more rare,

New England Aster! – What can be more fair! –

Child of the ripe year’s calm, serene, suspense,

Star of September’s glory!  say, O whence,

‘Mid golden-rod, and golden sunflower’s blaze,

Comes the deep tone of those cyanic rays,

For long-lost violet more than recompense?

by George Lansing Taylor

New England asters (Aster novae-angliae) were flowering as well, their regal purples a foil to the goldenrods and grasses. I can’t be without asters now. They can be forgiven for their tatty mildewed leaves and splayed centers in exchange for their late seasonal flowers. The Europeans have a better appreciation for our asters – have a look at the Autumn Garden at Le Jardin de Plume where asters are like cloudscapes from which grasses, Persicaria orientalis, and bugbanes (Actaea) fly forth. It’s interesting to observe how lanky the unadulterated New England aster is since breeding clearly has shortened the stems, making for a fuller dome shape. However, I find its wild lankness in the open fields a visual advantage for towering over neighboring plants. Having said that, I used to look carefully in search of variants worth introducing, a rather fruitless endeavor if you consider the New England aster’s European education!

I find it comforting to see the same wildflowers that were muses to our country’s early writers, especially in the apocalyptic sounding  times of climate change.

Not all the autumnal fame belongs to leaves in trees - the extinct Franklinia alatamaha still offers its camellia-like blossoms late in the year.
Not all the autumnal fame belongs to leaves in trees – the extinct Franklinia alatamaha still offers its camellia-like blossoms late in the year.

On a last note, do you know Franklinia alatamaha? At my friends’ Philadelphia garden, it was covered with white flowers that always evoke camellias or stewartias, both of which share the same family Theaceace. The seed capsules have a curious zig zag shape worthy of a jewelry design. Up north in the Boston area, the leaves turn scarlet at the same time as the flowers. I have not seen this tree in the British Isles, which may not have the summer heat for growth. Franklinia has a storied history linked to Philadelphia as the Philadelphian botanists John Bartram and his son William discovered it along the banks of the Altamaha River in Georgia. Shortly after the Bartrams introduced the tree to cultivation, Franklinia was never rediscovered despite a second sighting in the 1770s. Sadly its extinction in the wild meant no posthumous eulogies spun by our writers even if its fame as the ‘lost camellia’ prevented its obscurity.

Take care, Eric

Stoking the Fall Fire

Salvia guaranitica and Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ with Dahlia ‘David Howard’ in the background

Autumn is an excellent time to evaluate combinations in the garden especially when one needs to consider what tender perennials and spring-planted bulbs to dig up or propagate for the following year.  With the classic blue skies, the golden autumn really highlight bright colors.  As cool nights return, dahlias are stepping their game again after their initial flush of flowers in early summer. Dark-leafed cultivars, especially the Mystic Series from the New Zealand plant breeder Keith Hammett, continue to be introduced. Few have surpassed ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, which remains a gardener’s classic, like a black cocktail dress for women. There’s something arresting about the unadulterated bright red flowers jumping fiery-eyed from its dark moody foliage. ‘David Howard’ is another dark-leafed variety that has catapulted into the classic arena of mixed borders. Its orange is soft, not glaringly brash, making it easily compatible with most plants. It is taller and larger than ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, requiring staking to prevent the stems from toppling over. Salvia guaranitica, a South American native, has been flowering steadily throughout summer, and its almost true-blue flowers add a cooling note to the fiery colors of ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ and ‘David Howard’. This trio of dahlias and Salvia guaranitica can be quadrupled for a late summer to autumn bedding scheme.

The key thing is to keep the combination simple, restricting the plants to two to three for that elusive artful balance.