What's Cooking at NPR for Memorial Day Weekend? : NPR Extra With the unofficial start of summer upon us, we asked some of our colleagues, who are known around the office for their culinary prowess, to share their favorite summertime recipes. Turns out, we've got a sweet tooth.
NPR logo What's Cooking at NPR for Memorial Day Weekend?

What's Cooking at NPR for Memorial Day Weekend?

Just like the rest of the country, NPR staff is getting ready to fire up their grills and lather on the SPF for Memorial Day weekend. We asked some of our colleagues, who are known around the office for their culinary prowess, to share their favorite summertime recipes. Turns out Susan Stamberg isn't the only one with a recipe up her sleeve in this building (and that we have a bit of a sweet tooth).

Kim Bryant, Manager of Application Operations, NPR Digital Media

Papaya Lime Sorbet Kim Bryant hide caption

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Kim Bryant

Papaya Lime Sorbet

Kim Bryant

Papaya Lime Sorbet
Original recipe, makes 6-8 servings

  • 1 large ripe papaya
  • 1 fresh lime
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/14 – 1 1/2 cups simple syrup
  • sprigs of fresh spearmint (optional)

Split the papaya in half lengthwise and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. (For an interesting zing in sauces and salad dressings, set aside the peppery seeds in a mesh strainer and rinse off the stringy pulp. You can use them fresh or dry them.)

Scoop out papaya flesh from the skin and whirl in a food processor or blender with the water and the juice of the lime until liquefied. Pour into fine mesh strainer over a 4-cup measure or medium bowl and let sit for several hours. The pulp in the strainer should be about the consistency of tomato paste by the time it's ready for the next step.

Add simple syrup to create 4 cups of liquid. Don't add more than 1 ½ cups of simple syrup; any more and the sugar will overtake the taste of the papaya. If necessary, add a little more water to reach 4 cups or just make a smaller batch. Cover and cool mixture in refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight.

Whisk mixture well before processing in an ice cream maker. When it turns pale orange and very gluey, pack immediately into an airtight container and put in the freezer to harden and mature (2-4 hours). Serve with fresh sprigs of spearmint for garnish and flavor-enhancing aroma.

Simple syrup:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water

Stir water and sugar together in small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Keep at a boil for 3 minutes to ensure all sugar has dissolved, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Rachel Estabrook, Associate Director, Institutional Giving

Carolyn's Bean and Rice Salad


  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans (or pinto or romano)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 can (4oz) green chili peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander or parsley


  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (or more if you like it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (lemon pepper is good)

Mix dressing ingredients; put the dressing in the fridge overnight if possible.

Cook rice with oil according to package directions (or just heat oil, stir in the rice and add 2 cups water; simmer for 20 min)

Mix all the other ingredients together (kidney beans through coriander/parsley). Add cooled rice and mix in the dressing. Refrigerate until you're ready to eat it (at least 20 minutes).

I usually mix the salad ingredients together in a big bowl and then just add the rice and dressing, mix, cover and refrigerate!

Marcia Morgan, Assistant Producer, NPR News Operations

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
From Jamaica Travel and Culture.com

  • One 3 1/2 lb chicken (3lb of chicken breasts may be used if preferred)
  • 6 sliced scotch bonnet peppers (jalapenos may be used if scotch bonnet peppers are unavailable)
  • 2 Tbsp. thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. ground allspice
  • 8 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 Medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 2 Tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 Tsp of the following (to taste)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup white vinegar


Chop the onions, garlic and peppers. These do not need to be chopped too fine as they will be liquified by the blender.

Blend all of the ingredients (excluding the chicken) in a blender to make the jerk sauce.

Cut the chicken up in to 4 pieces.

Rub the sauce in to the meat, saving some for basting and dipping later. Leave the chicken in the fridge to marinade overnight.


Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, turn the meat, then bake for a further 30 minutes.


Grill the meat slowly until cooked, turning regularly. Baste with some of the remaining marinade whilst cooking. For best results, cook over a charcoal barbeque (ideally over a rack of pimento wood).


Chop each quarter chicken portion in to 5 or 6 smaller pieces using a heavy cleaver.

Use a wooden spoon (or something similar) to hold the chicken in place while chopping and not your hand (you will be chopping with enough pressure to cut through bone!).

Serve with festival and salad or rice and peas or hardo bread and the jerk sauce left over for dipping.

Melissa Gray, Producer, All Things Considered

The Man Catcher Sour Cream Pound Cake
This is Melissa's go-to cake for for holidays and emergencies from her book All Cakes Considered.

  • 10 inch tube pan or Bundt pan
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract

Melissa says in her book, "Here are the directions for Grandma Gray's Sour Cream Pound Cake, almost exactly as she scrawled them on an index card, with only a few changes for clarification."

Center rack in oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. *Prepare a pan. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Alternately add flour mixture and sour cream. Add extracts. Beat until flavorings are incorporated and mixture looks smooth and even. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 90 minutes.

*Line pan with parchment paper, coat with oil and flour

Tanya Scott-Thomas, Manager, Development

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Tanya Scott-Thomas

Even though DC is plenty tropical in the summer months, we aren't lucky enough to grow papayas outside of greenhouses. This light dessert is pretty, refreshing, and a little out of the ordinary – worth tracking down the fruit it requires. There's no more relaxing end to a hot summer weekend than sitting on our back patio while listening to Ed Walker's The Big Broadcast and eating a bowl of this sorbet. - Kim

Lattice-Topped Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

For the filling:

  • 3 ½ cups
  • ½ -inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 1/2 pounds untrimmed)
  • 1 16-ounce container of fresh strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 ½ cups)
  • ½ cup (packed) golden brown sugar - I replaced with dark brown sugar because I prefer it in all my desserts
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch – replaced with flour because I don't usually keep cornstarch in my pantry and flour does the same thing
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tbs. unsalted butter cut into little pieces – this makes the filling taste much richer

For the crusts (makes 2 layers top & bottom):

  • 2 ½ cups of flour
  • ½ cup of very cold butter
  • ½ cup very cold shortening
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup ice water (eyeball it)

I like to start with everything very cold even the flour, which I put in a metal bowl in the freezer for a bit to chill it. Makes the crust flakier.

Cut the butter and shortening in to 1 inch chunks

Mix all the dry ingredients then cut in the butter and shortening with a pastry cutter or fork until it starts to look like meal, the chucks will be smaller but still distinguishable and the flour will take on the butter color a bit.

Slowly add the ice water until the dough starts to come together, getting the proper wetness takes some practice, there should be nothing sticking to the sides of the bowl but you should still be able to see the butter and shortening marbling through the dough.

Transfer to a floured surface, quickly shape into a ball, cut it in half and flatten into 2 disks, wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour (you can do this the night before as well).

Make filling

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine first seven ingredients in large bowl. Toss gently to blend.

Roll out one dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.

Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into fourteen 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into crust. Dot with butter. Arrange seven dough strips atop filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.

Brush egg wash over crust (1 large egg mixed with a bit of water, you can also sprinkle with 1 tsp raw sugar), transfer pie to baking sheet. Cover the edges with foil or silicone ring to protect the edges from burning, remove the ring in the last 15-20 minutes of baking. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake pie until golden and filling thickens, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

The filling is adapted from Epicurious.com, which posted it from Bon Appetit (April 1997). I have my own recipe for the crust which I came to via some tasty trial and error.
- Tanya