For the most part I cook without a recipe. Of course there are exceptions -- like most cooks, I use recipes when baking and the amounts need to be precise. But when it comes to savory food I am much more likely to wing it, or to look at a recipe for an idea but not actually follow the exact amounts, or the exact ingredients or instructions. There is inevitably some thing I do not have, or some part I think might be better or easier another way. For this reason, this potato gratin recipe from Epicurious really stands out for me. It is perfect! I have made it enough times that you would think I would have abandoned the recipe long ago but I want it to be exactly as written every time for fear that it won't be as good if I mess with it. It has become a traditional part of our family's holiday meals...hope you like it as much as I do!
P.S. There is one variation that I have tried: Add a few layers of sliced ham between the potatoes and you can convert this delicious side dish into a meal of its own.