Strangely, I have the same problem (authorisation box when browsing workgroups), although my home network is slightly larger than two machines, so shortcuts to all the shares isn't really an option that I'm entertaining.
I have a Sabayon 5 (x64) box that has this problem and a Gentoo (i686) box that doesn't (as well as various other wintel/linux boxes - but the sabayon and gentoo boxes are the closest in configuration). I believe that I've narrowed it down to a KDE issue (specifically Dolphin) as opposed to samba, as smbclient works flawlessly, as does smb4k (installed for testing). I normally use equo on the Sabayon box (because I'm lazy), however have recompiled samba, dolphin and kdebase-kioslaves with the same use flags as the Gentoo box and no joy (yes, I know the risks of mixing entropy and portage).
The funny thing is, however - although my testing points to KDE, if I X forward and open dolphin over ssh, I get the following console output:
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kdeinit4: preparing to launch /usr/lib64/kde4/kio_smb.so
kdeinit4: preparing to launch /usr/lib64/kde4/kio_file.so
Could not get name of local/domain master browser for server mshome
which suggests that the interaction between dolphin and samba is poor (samba works, smb4k works, etc)
EDIT: I should point out that the above messages do not appear if I open a local console. I should also point out that the SL5 box is configured to be the local master, domain master and preferred master.