| | Love at First Bite

Author / John

Photo Feb 08, 7 12 02 PM
Love, lust or a little of both? Whichever it is grab your spouse, GF, BF, lover or date du jour and try this Valentine’s dinner for a night of culinary decadence and romance. . .

Advice for any dude that bitches about Valentine’s day; here’s a little story. . . for about the first ten years of being together my husband would complain about how Valentine’s day was no different than any other day of the year and designed solely to increase Hallmark’s bottom line. “A bunch of commercialized bullshit”. That did not set well with me, period. Although he would go out to dinner or celebrate with me his grumbling always took something out of it. Around the 10 year mark he wised up and realized that by buying a card and sometimes a rose or small gift would go a long way towards making his life easier. He would accumulate what he referred as “brownie points”. And what I referred to as staying out of the doghouse.

After 30 years together and an equal number of Valentine’s days we still have a hard time agreeing on all things but one thing we do–we’d rather stay home on Valentine’s day than go out. While it’s nice to be waited on the restaurant’s are usually overbooked and crowded, the staff and chef are a little stressed and service and food are usually not as good as on a less crowded night. Not to mention the quality of the foods if often sub par. Nothing beats a cozy, romantic Valentine’s day at home.

We start the meal off with appetizers; I’m an oyster girl. . .

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On the half shell and raw. I fell in love at first taste upon moving to Key West in 1982. I want nothing other than a splash of lime and a dash of sea salt. Shuck and serve. Hubby adds a bit of Crystal and a cracker.

He’s really an escargot kind of guy. . .

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And in our house simplicity reigns. Although I rarely if ever use canned ingredients this is one exception to the rule. I have yet to source out fresh ones and I find the flavor and texture good enough for my palate. Pop open the can and drain. Take some raw grass fed butter–about 6 tablespoons softened, 2 cloves garlic finely chopped, 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley finely chopped and 1/2 teaspoon brandy and mix together well. Use a small dollop of the butter mixture to each snail and place in shells or an escargot dish and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with gluten free toast points if desired.

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The Salad.

The strawberry fields are in full bloom in Florida and these little beauties were not only organic but locally grown. I also found butterhead lettuce, purple cabbage and fresh carrots at our local farm market that morning. Feel free to get creative with your salad. I added the fresh sliced strawberries and chopped walnuts. Since store bought dressings often contain high fructose corn syrup, vegetable oils and preservatives I served with this simple strawberry vinaigrette. . .

1/2 cup sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon raw honey
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

On to the main course. . .

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Bacon wrapped filets topped with your choice of lump blue crab meat or lobster

Be still my heart, these were to die for. I’m a lobster girl, he’s into crab meat. Start with 2, 10 oz grass fed Filet Mignons and wrap 1 slice of nitrate/nitrite free bacon and secure with 2 tooth picks. Sprinkle with garlic powder, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place under the broiler and cook until desired degree of doneness. I’m rare, he’s medium. 6-10 minutes per side. While the filets are cooking melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat; add either 1, 3-4 oz lobster tail, chopped or 1/2 cup lump blue crab meat (per steak) and sauté until just barely opaque (lobster) or heated through (crab). When the steak is done, top with shellfish of choice and pour any remaining pan juices over.

Time for dessert — I hope you saved room!

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This crème brulee was too good to resist. And its not that hard to make. Don’t be afraid of this seemingly fancy dessert, it’s really nothing more than sugared custard.

What’s your fancy? I’m vanilla, he’s chocolate. Either way chocolate was in both of these.

Chocolate Crème Brulee

2 cups raw grass fed cream
6 pastured egg yolks
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 oz white or dark chocolate
2 tablespoons castor sugar (superfine)*

Melt chocolate and 1/2 cup cream in a small saucepan over low heat stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks until well blended, add the vanilla and maple syrup. With a wire whisk very quickly add the chocolate cream mixture stirring rapidly so the egg yolks do not cook. Add the remainder of the cream blending well.

Place the mixture into 4, 8 oz ramekins; place them in a 13 x 9″ Pyrex baking dish. Add 1/2″ water to the pan. Bake at 300 degrees for about 1 hour or until almost set. Allow to cool in the water bath for about 20 minutes. Then place in the fridge and cool 6 hours to overnight.

Right before serving remove the ramekins from the refrigerator and sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of superfine sugar over each brulee. Torch until a crispy top forms.*  Allow to sit 5 minutes before devouring.

*I first used brown sugar (too moist), then raw sugar (too coarse); they would burn before caramelizing. The superfine sugar worked the best and gave a nice crisp topping.

*I purchased a chef’s torch and mini butane can from Bed Bath & Beyond although you could caramelize under a broiler

I would recommend starting your evening a little early as there’s quite a few courses to this meal. And taking your time is part of the enjoyment.  Serve your favorite libation; I don’t drink but hubby had no problem polishing off a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite our differences opposites do attract and it’s still love at first bite after all these years.  I wish you the same, Happy Valentine’s Day fellow power athletes – enjoy!

Check out more recipes at my blog Paula Lean Primal Queen!

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John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.


  1. Chris on February 12, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    This. This is AWESOME. My wife and I make it a tradition every year to get a bottle of wine and cook a nice dinner for each other. I just found what I’ll be making. Thanks Paula for sharing!

  2. Paula on February 13, 2015 at 3:29 am

    @chris603 Enjoy–Happy Valentine’s Day!

  3. Chris on February 14, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    @shebeast, it came it so well! She loved everything. Thanks again!

  4. Paula on February 16, 2015 at 3:18 am

    Glad you enjoyed @Chris!

  5. Leah Kay on February 16, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    I love you Paula!

  6. Paula on February 17, 2015 at 4:51 am

    @leahk ditto! Hope your V day was wonderful

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