Happy 4th of July! Hope everyone has a wonderful day with friends and family. This appetizer came to my attention when I was living in Greensboro, NC. There is a shop there called Roosters Gourmet Market and one of their guest instructors was Shirley O Corriher, a biochemist and the author of CookWise and BakeWise. She specializes in analyzing the chemistry of food. In an article in the local paper she talked about how interesting this appetizer was. The method of cooking and the way the cheese melts into the crackers makes for a very crispy treat. The pepper flakes add the heat that give the crackers their name. You can tame the heat by decreasing the amount of pepper flakes used but they really add a nice kick. Be sure to use FAT FREE saltine crackers. The seasoning you use is up to you. You can use an Italian herb blend or a grilling spice that is not overly salty. This is a very easy and different snack to offer your guests.
1/4 box (one sleeve) Fat Free Saltine Crackers
2 tsp seasoning of choice
1 Tbls hot pepper flakes (less if you do not like a lot of heat)
1/2 pound shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Arrange saltine crackers on a baking sheet with crackers touching. Sprinkle seasoning over crackers. Sprinkle with as many pepper flakes as you dare. Top with shredded cheese. Place pan on center shelf of oven, close door and turn oven off. Leave in oven overnight or at least 4 hours. The hot oven melts and browns the cheese, producing an even coating of crisp brown. Fat from the cheese soaks into the crackers and puffs them slightly. Leaving them in the oven dries them out well so that they are super crunchy. Break apart and eat or store. They keep well for several weeks sealed in an airtight tin.