J.M. Hirsch calls it “blunt force cooking.”

As national food editor for The Associated Press, he knows what it’s like to face an unplanned dinner hour after a weary day of deadlines. So he’s become a master of shortcuts that result in meals that are fast but still full of flavor.

He shares his recipes and tricks in his new cookbook, “High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking” (Ballantine Books, $24).

If you’re single and having last-minute company over, there’s some great ideas for easy starters that will impress your friends. It’s easy to forget the ho-hum cheese and crackers when you have options like grilled, bacon-wrapped figs with blue cheese.

If you have a family to feed, Hirsch shows you ways to spice up – and speed up – old standards. Turn your plain hamburgers into Ginger-Teriyaki Burgers by adding grated fresh ginger, minced garlic, teriyaki sauce and rice vinegar. His Stovetop Brocc Mac and Cheese (made with whole wheat pasta) takes about 15 minutes to prepare and contains hot sauce, garlic powder and ground ginger.

A Red Curry Beef made with seasonings that include Thai red curry paste, soy sauce, lime zest and basil is, Hirsch says, a “Thai-inspired sloppy joe.” And Hirsch’s Curried Haddock with Coconut Milk may make Mainers rethink their relationship with plain old fish chowder.

Hirsch includes a list of flavorful spices, seasonings and other ingredients that should be in everyone’s pantry, from peppadew peppers and smoked paprika to coconut milk and toasted sesame oil.