“Posh Rice: Over 70 Recipes for All Things Rice.” By Emily Kydd. Quadrille. $19.99

In my kitchen, recipes are more like guidelines than rules.

I measure spices in pinches and accidental spills. I cook by taste rather than tablespoons. I pour what kind of looks like a cup of this into a bowl of that.

Rice, as it happens, has never been my specialty.

Cooking rice really requires loyalty to the directions. Too little water, I end up with dry and crunchy bits. Too much water, I might serve sticky and bloated grains. Looking for some guidance, I turned to “Posh Rice: Over 70 Recipes for All Things Rice” by Emily Kydd.

“Although it makes a great accompaniment to any meal, rice doesn’t always have to play a supporting role,” Kydd writes in the introduction. “It’s time to show that bag of rice in your cupboard some love and elevate it to star status.”

Kydd is a food stylist and recipe writer based in London, and her book is part of a series from U.K.-based Quadrille Publishing. (Be prepared for Britishisms in both spelling and ingredient names in the book.) There’s also “Posh Eggs” by Lucy O’Reilly and “Posh Toast” also by Kydd. “Posh Rice” could serve as a textbook for Cooking Rice 101. Kydd starts off with a no-frills guide (with pictures) to different types of rice. Some, like wild rice or basmati rice, are familiar to me. Others, like pudding rice or Camargue red rice, are less common in my pantry. But she spends little time opining and turns her attention quickly to the recipes.

As I flipped through the glossy pages and ogled at the colorful photos, it seemed like this book contained every rice recipe on the planet. There’s stuffed vine leaves from Greece, an Italian rice ball called arancini and a triangle-shaped Japanese snack called onigiri. And that’s just in the chapter on soups and snacks. The main courses ranged from one-pot jambalaya to a Korean dish called bibimbap, a cheesy courgette (Americans call it zucchini) gratin and Moroccan baked chicken. I folded the corner of the recipe for wild rice and bacon stuffing for a Thanksgiving side. The dessert section had me drooling over blueberry rice puddings and risotto fritters.

I couldn’t find a recipe I didn’t want to try. Granted, not all of the recipes “Posh Rice” are within my skill level in the kitchen. I eyed the spanakopita spiral pies, but I decided I needed to just cook rice without burning it to the bottom of the pan before attempting that one. And while many of the side dishes cook in 40 minutes or less, most of the entrees in the book require more than an hour or even two. These dishes are a little more advanced than a box of Minute microwave white rice.

I settled on stuffed peppers – a warm comfort food for one of the first chilly days of fall. Cooking the rice in beef stock, onion and garlic gave it a more savory flavor than if I had used water. I was skeptical of the allspice, but I dutifully poured two heaping teaspoons over the ground lamb and other ingredients. When the peppers came out of the oven 65 minutes later, the allspice sang in my first bite. Drizzling olive oil and beef stock over the pan before baking kept the rice and lamb moist inside the roasted peppers. I had more filling than could fit in the peppers, but adding the leftovers to scrambled eggs gave me a delicious breakfast the next morning.

Maybe following a recipe isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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STUFFED PEPPERS

Serves 6; takes about 1 hour, 30 minutes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 onion, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

150 grams or 3/4 cup easy-cook long-grain rice

600 millimeters or 11/4 pints hot lamb or beef stock

6 mixed colour (bell) peppers

2 teaspoons allspice

250 grams or 9 ounces lamb mince

50 grams or 2 ounces pine nuts, toasted

2 tablespoons tomato puree

50 grams or 2 ounces raisins

1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

FOR THE YOGHURT:

250 grams or 9 ounces Greek yoghurt

1 garlic clove, crushed,

Handful dill, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/400 degrees Fahrenheit/gas 6. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the onion for about eight minutes until softened. Add the garlic and rice and stir. Turn the heat down and pour in 150 millimeters or 5 fluid ounces of the stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Tip into a large bowl and leave to cool.

Slice the tops from the peppers, reserving the lids, and scoop out the seeds and core. Place in a casserole dish – trim the bottoms without making any holes to make them stand, if needed.

Add the allspice, lamb mince, pine nuts, tomato puree, raisins and parsley to the cooler rice, along with 150 millimeters or 5 fluid ounces of the stock, the salt and some black pepper. Spoon into the peppers, packing the mixture down. Poor over a little of the stock, then pop the pepper lids back on. Drizzle generously with oil and pour the remaining stock into the bottom of the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together the yoghurt, garlic, dill and some seasoning and serve alongside the peppers.